Rory Nairn not warned of myocarditis risk from vaccine, inquest finds

A South Island plumber who died 12 days after being vaccinated against Covid-19 was not warned of the risks of myocarditis, an inquest has heard.

Rory James Nairn (26) died at the home he shared with his fiancée Ashleigh Wilson 12 days later on November 17 last year.

Coroner Sue Johnson told a Dunedin District Court inquest this morning that it had been accepted that Mr Nairn’s death had been caused by myocarditis, a rare heart condition, and that it was likely due to the receipt of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Ms Wilson read a tearful statement this morning after placing a large photo of her partner in court.

She hung a wedding ring on it that he never got to wear and a mold of their intertwined hands made after his death.

“Rory and I had our whole lives ahead of us and so much to look forward to together. This has now disappeared. His death was so unnecessary and could have been avoided,” she said.

Ms Wilson said the man she had known since he was 14 was ‘vaccine hesitant’ but made the decision to get vaccinated after a celebratory breakfast after buying the house of his dreams.

The vaccinating pharmacist, whose name has been withheld, said patients at the time were not warned about myocarditis due to its rarity, but confirmed she was aware of it.

Health Department lawyer Ben Finn questioned whether the severity of the side effect suggested people should have been specifically told, citing documents distributed by the Immunization Advisory Center.

“That’s not what I was instructed to do at the time by work,” the pharmacist said.

Later that night, at a family dinner, Mr Nairn said his chest was “strange”.

“This conversation was very casual and no one, including Rory, was involved,” Ms Wilson said.

While Mr Nairn experienced further throbs in his chest, as well as headaches and a sore elbow, he attributed it to the stress of an impending wedding and moving house.

His father Brett described him as “generally strong and fit”, an avid hunter and rugby player.

In the early hours of November 17, Mr Nairn woke up uncomfortably and said he would see a doctor the next day.

But when he got up a few hours later, he agreed to go to the hospital.

Minutes later he collapsed in the bathroom and Ms. Wilson couldn’t open the door to get in.

“I could see Rory through the crack in the door. I could see he was dead,” she said.

Emergency services arrived on the scene and performed CPR in the living room, but were unsuccessful.

Ms Wilson said she later found a screenshot on her partner’s phone relating to myocarditis.

If the advice to see a doctor had been more urgent, it might have saved her life, she said.

“I quickly moved from planning a wedding to planning a funeral,” Ms Wilson said.

Ms Wilson said her agony had been compounded by a barrage of online abuse due to the controversial nature of Mr Nairn’s death and that her family had been “blown away” by the controversial vaccine issue.

“My heart has been broken over and over again by this online harassment,” she said.

In an opening address, the coroner conveyed his condolences to the family and stressed that the inquest was a fact-finding exercise.

“I am truly sorry for your loss. . . I recognize that being here might bring back memories of the night in question and take you back to that time,” Ms Johnson said.

She told the crowded courtroom that she was not there to determine fault and that assessing the benefits of vaccination or otherwise was “completely beyond my jurisdiction”.

The investigation is expected to wrap up next week.

Martin E. Berry