Michigan student, 25, died after he was refused COVID-19 test, sister says

Despite having key symptoms, medical professionals allegedly told him he had bronchitis —before sending the chemical engineer student home

Bassey Offiong theGrio.com
Bassey Offiong (Photo Courtesy of The Family)

A Western Michigan University senior who was denied a test for the coronavirus died over the weekend from the disease.

Bassey Offiong, 25, from Detroit, was due to graduate this spring with a chemical engineering degree. Instead, his sister, Asari Offiong, says her brother was turned away multiple times when he went to get tested in the Kalamazoo area, even though he had key symptoms, including fever, and shortness of breath and fatigue.

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“I told him to ask them to test him,” Offiong told The Detroit News. “He said they refused to test him.”

Asari, who said she last saw her brother a week ago, said one health care practitioner diagnosed him as having bronchitis. Offiong was eventually hospitalized at Beaumont in Royal Oak and was hooked up to a ventilator in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Offiong has not yet released the locations where her brother was denied a coronavirus test. She told The Detroit News her brother had no known prior health issues. 

Bassey Offiong theGrio.com

Bassey Offiong (Picture Courtesy of The Family)

She reminisced on her brother, calling him sweet and humble and referring to him as a “gentle giant.”

“I know God has him in his presence,” Offiong told The Detroit News. “He loved God” and was a member of Christ the King Miracle Church in Redford Township.

After college, Offiong wanted to use his chemical engineering degree to start an organic makeup line with Loreal, his sister said. “He’s just someone who thinks so big,” she said.

Western Michigan University officials also mourned Offiong’s death. President Edward Montgomery said he had “enormous potential.”

“On behalf of the entire Bronco community, I want to extend my deepest condolences to his entire family, including his sister, Asari, who has been generous in communicating with us regularly,” Montgomery said in a press release. “They are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

READ MORE: Black people who have died from COVID-19

Last Friday, university officials divulged that three students had recently tested positive with the coronavirus.

“We urge everyone to help us fight community spread by following the Governor’s executive order,” Jim Rutherford, health officer for the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department, told The Detroit News. “Stay home and, if you must go out for essential items, stay safe by taking preventative measures.”

Bassey Offiong was of Nigerian heritage and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, Incorporated.