Kolton Kersten

Kolton’s Story

In 2013, Kolton was a student at Midland University. He was also a star wrestler who ranked second in the nation in collegiate wrestling. During practice one day, he suddenly didn’t feel well – his body hurt and he hardly had any energy. He drove himself to a doctor’s office where he was diagnosed with mononucleosis, also known as “mono”. He was sent back to his dorm and told to take Tylenol and rest.

Throughout the night, his symptoms progressed – he threw up repeatedly, was unable to move, and developed a purplish rash all over his arms and legs. Early the next morning, his roommate rushed him to a local hospital. Hours later he was on a life-flight to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. His family rushed to UNMC where he was read his last rites and was given a 10 percent chance of survival. He survived, but lost 65 pounds and was left with scars all over his arms and legs. He underwent intense physical therapy, but today he has made a comeback and is now a wrestling coach at Northwestern College in Iowa. Among the students he coaches is another bacterial meningitis survivor, Preston, who survived at age 6 and lost both legs to the disease.

Kolton had been vaccinated against meningococcal disease, but he contracted serogroup B. At the time, there were no serogroup B vaccines available but now there are. He educates others about available vaccines to prevent this disease so no other family has to go through what his went through.

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