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Heart inflammation killed IMB worker in northern Africa, autopsy reveals

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Laura Ogden*, a Southern Baptist representative in northern Africa who died suddenly May 31, was killed by an acute, untreatable inflammation of the heart. Her husband has asked Southern Baptists to keep praying for their family.

“The medical examiner in Albuquerque, N.M., explained autopsy results indicating that death was due to myocarditis, an acute inflammation of the heart, apparently caused by a virus attacking the heart muscle,” said Travis White, a medical consultant with the International Mission Board. “There is no specific treatment for this condition.

“Supportive medical care is given to patients in these cases, and sometimes the heart recovers, sometimes not,” he said. “Laura Ogden’s myocarditis was particularly severe.”

Ogden’s husband, David*, said God has proven himself reliable in the wake of his wife’s death. “I cannot begin to describe how faithful our God is during this time of hardship within my life,” he said. “He continues to give me strength during such a difficult time for me and the children.

“There is much pain, but there is also much grace being poured upon us. God is giving us many opportunities to reflect his glory,” he added. “Please continue to pray for us and our families.”

Viral myocarditis is generally caused by common respiratory tract viruses that cause colds, White explained. Doctors do not know why the same virus that only causes cold symptoms in the great majority of people attacks the hearts of a few.

The condition is rare, affecting in a city of 2 million only one or two people each year, he said.

“Laura’s condition was not treatable and the medical team caring for her made every effort to save her life,” White said. “Her death was likely no matter where in the world she had been treated.”

Ogden, 34, had been hospitalized the morning of May 30 after two days of flu-like illness. She died the next evening while plans were being made for a medical evacuation.

The Ogdens have four children: Philip, 8, Paul, 6, Mary, 2, and Julia, 1. They began their service with the International Mission Board in 1996.

Her funeral was held June 9 at Hoffmantown Baptist Church in Albuquerque.
*Names changed

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  • Mark Kelly