‘The O’Dea way’: Community rallied around lacrosse player with life-threatening infection

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
O’Dea High School lacrosse players and coaches visit starting goalie Drew Chapman during his hospitalization at Swedish Medical Center for treatment of a life-threatening infection. Photo: Courtesy Dana Tonkin Chapman O’Dea High School lacrosse players and coaches visit starting goalie Drew Chapman during his hospitalization at Swedish Medical Center for treatment of a life-threatening infection. Photo: Courtesy Dana Tonkin Chapman

SEATTLE – Soon after beating a life-threatening infection, O’Dea High School lacrosse goalie Drew Chapman helped his team beat Seattle Preparatory School, capturing the state lacrosse title for private schools.

O’Dea’s students, teachers and staff were with 15-year-old Drew every step of the way during his five-day stay in the pediatric intensive care unit at Swedish Medical Center’s First Hill Campus, not far from O’Dea.

“The school really rallied around Drew,” said John O’Neill, O’Dea’s assistant lacrosse coach, who visited Drew twice a day. “It was really scary for all of the students.”

It all began on Thursday, April 12, with an inch-long cut on Drew’s left shin, sustained while doing box jump exercises at school.

“Nobody thought anything of it,” said his mother, Dana Tonkin Chapman.

Drew eventually developed a fever and headaches, but went to school the following Monday so he could play in that afternoon’s lacrosse game against Seattle Prep. He did play, but O’Dea lost and Drew had to be helped off the field by his teammates.

“I was feeling terrible — the worst I’ve ever felt in my life,” said Drew, a member of Holy Family Parish in Kirkland.

He ended up hospitalized the next day at Swedish, where he was treated for Group A Streptococcus that became sepsis and worsened to toxic shock syndrome, Tonkin Chapman said.

On the first morning of Drew’s hospital stay, O’Dea principal James Walker and athletic director Monte Kohler walked over to Swedish to visit Drew.

“As a school community, we were able to pray for him every morning,” Kohler said.

O’Dea High School lacrosse players hold up one finger, in honor of goalie Drew Chapman’s jersey number, after a win while the 15-year-old was hospitalized for a life-threatening infection in April. Photo: Courtesy Dana Tonkin Chapman.

In addition, coaches, teachers and moms visited Drew every day, Tonkin Chapman said. He received Communion from a St. James Cathedral minister and the sacrament of the anointing of the sick from Father Donald Perea, chaplain of the archdiocese’s First Hill Catholic Hospital Ministry and parochial vicar at St. Madeleine Sophie Parish in Bellevue.

“The doctor said he’d never had a patient with so much community support,” Tonkin Chapman wrote in an email. She told the doctor, “It’s the Catholic way. It’s the O’Dea way.”

On that Thursday, April 19, Drew’s lacrosse teammates were cleared to visit him. He was released from Swedish two days later so he could attend the funeral for a friend’s father.

Not long after, Drew — an All-Metro goalie — helped his team to its first championship, in the private school division of the Washington High School Boys Lacrosse Association. On May 3, Drew was confirmed at St. James Cathedral, with O’Neill, the assistant lacrosse coach, as his sponsor.

With the school year just ended, Drew will spend time this summer playing lacrosse for a club team and volunteering at a homeless shelter in Kirkland.

“I’m thankful I got out OK and [I’m] able to do the things I want to in the summer,” he said.