Lauren Schwab, who passed away Saturday night from a blood clot in her lung, was getting her nursing degree with Winona State University. -- Photo provided
Lauren Schwab, who passed away Saturday night from a blood clot in her lung, was getting her nursing degree with Winona State University. -- Photo provided

Archived Story

An outstanding person: Family remembers nursing student as uplifting, kind

Published 11:40am Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lauren Schwab, 1992-2013

Lauren Schwab may not have finished her nursing degree, but she had a nurse’s mindset all along.

“Her goal in life was to help people,” said her father, Pat Schwab.

Lauren Elizabeth Schwab, 20, died Saturday night from complications of a pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the arteries of the lungs. To those who knew her, Lauren was the well-liked, smiling girl who loved spending time with her friends. She had a propensity for kindness and was quick to give a hug.

“We talked every day, even when she was away at school,” said her mother, Beth Schwab. “She was full of life and encouragement.”

Lauren was born April 24, 1992, in Amherst, N.Y. She attended Pacelli Catholic Elementary and then Austin High School, graduating in 2010. She attended Winona State University, and then Riverland Community College, pursuing a career in nursing. Today would have been her 21st birthday.

In high school, Lauren took initiative and followed through when she set her sights on something, said AHS assistant principal Andrea Malo, who had Lauren in her history classes.

“She was an outstanding person,” Malo said. “She was the type of person who would walk down the hallway and have a smile on her face … a real genuine person.”

Lauren Schwab, left, is shown in a photo with her brother, Nathan, and sister, Paiton. -- Photo provided
Lauren Schwab, left, is shown in a photo with her brother, Nathan, and sister, Paiton. — Photo provided

Lauren was active in school, Malo said. She sat on the student council, where she co-chaired school dances and helped organize food drives. She also attended her siblings’ school events to support them. Her sister Paiton is 12, and her brother Nathan attends the University of Minnesota.

Kaycee Lukes, who now attends college in Madison, Wis., said Lauren had a great laugh and a smile that could cheer up anybody.

“She wanted to be everybody’s friend,” Lukes said. “And she was, too.”

Lukes and Lauren had met in second grade at a classmate’s birthday party.

“Ever since then, she’s been my best friend,” Lukes said.

Sam Brucker is a friend of Lauren’s now attending the University of Minnesota. They met when they were freshmen at AHS. The two played basketball and golfed together for the Packers. Brucker said Lauren was full of courage and determination.

“That really inspired me to be the best person I could be,” Brucker said. “She was an amazing person. She was really beautiful inside and out.”

During and after high school, Lauren volunteered at the Red Cross, where she served on the board as a student representative. She also worked as a certified nursing assistant at Sacred Heart.

“She loved taking care of the residents and she got quite attached to some of them,” Pat said.

In the summers, she worked at Quality Pork Processors, where she did quality control inspections. She befriended many of her fellow employees there, and kept up with them while she was at college.

At Winona State, she worked toward a nursing degree. She had recently returned to Austin to continue her studies through a partnership program between Winona and Riverland.

About a week before she died, Pat said Lauren started to feel strong cramps and pains in her legs. They decided she should get it checked out. One night, before she had a chance to visit the doctor, Lauren’s health took a sudden turn for the worse.

“She was doing some homework in our home, and started to complain of some chest pains,” Pat said. “She was coughing, had trouble breathing.”

The family rushed her to the hospital, where doctors worked to help her before she passed away. An autopsy later confirmed a pulmonary embolism was the cause of death.

The disease is a blockage of one or more arteries in the lungs, according to a Mayo Clinic website. In many cases, it can travel to the lungs from another part of the body, such as the legs. It can occur in otherwise healthy people who are immobile for long periods of time, such as during bed rest or long journeys, which can slow the circulation of blood and allow clots to form.

Lauren had taken a trip to Seattle for spring break not long before she started feeling leg cramps, Pat said.

“We will never know, but that could have been a blood clot,” he said.

To that end, Pat hopes what happened to Lauren can do some good going forward. If even one person who hears about what happened uses that knowledge to catch a blood clot before it causes him or her too much harm, Pat said, it would be an outstanding achievement. Preventive measures could save a life.

“It’s a simple test that you go in for,” he said.

A doctor who spoke to Pat in the emergency room said cramps like the ones Lauren had could be signs of deeper problems.

“He wished more people would come in when they have these types of leg cramps and leg pains,” Pat said.

Lauren’s friends found out she had passed away and quickly poured forth their support on her Facebook page. Beth said the response shows just how many friends she had.

A number of those friends got up early the next morning, only hours later, and piled into cars. They drove from Minneapolis and Madison to Lauren’s home.

“Sunday morning I had nine girls and one boy in my kitchen,” Pat said.

Lukes was one of the family’s visitors.

“It was a tough thing,” she said, adding the group was comforted by one another’s presence.

Beth said they came to share memories of Lauren.

“They all just needed to come to the house and talk about her,” she said.

On Wednesday, there will be a public Mass at St. Augustine Catholic Church at 5:15 p.m. A candlelight ceremony will be held at the flagpole outside Austin High School at 8 p.m. Thursday.

A funeral Mass will follow at 11 a.m. Friday at the church. Visitation will take place Thursday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Clasen-Jordan Mortuary with a 7 p.m. prayer service, and also for one hour before the Friday funeral.

Memorials may be directed to the Lauren Schwab Scholarship Fund in care of the family.

Remembering Lauren

— Public Mass, 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, St. Augustine Catholic Church

— Candlelight ceremony, 8 p.m. Thursday, flagpole outside Austin High School

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