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Why no autopsy was performed on Gloucester woman who died minutes after a COVID-19 vaccine

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Posted at 2:08 PM, Feb 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-17 14:09:08-05

GLOUCESTER, Va. - It has been 18 days since Lisa Jones unexpectedly lost her mother, Drene Keyes, and she still has no answers as to how or why she died.

"We had a memorial service for her last week," Jones told News 3.

The 58-year-old mother, grandmother, and minister died less than an hour after getting the Pfizer vaccine in Warsaw, Virginia.

"At this time, they still have not determined a cause of death," said Jones.

Emergency room doctors at VCU Tappahannock Hospital, to where Keyes was rushed on January 30, told Jones her mother had Flash Pulmonary Edema, caused by anaphylaxis, but it is still unclear as to if that was her cause of death.

The Medical Examiner's Office in Richmond told Jones they would not be performing an autopsy.

"It is something that ripped my heart out all over again," said Jones. "Something happens unexpectedly and you want answers want to uncover everything."

"She told me the full autopsy would not reveal anything that would associate the vaccine with her death," Jones went on to say.

State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver told News 3 in a statement Tuesday:

"No full autopsy was performed on Ms. Keyes because it was not necessary in order to determine whether her death was caused by anaphylaxis."
State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver

Oliver went on to say further questions needed to be directed to the Chief Medical Examiner, who has not returned our emails.

Jones told News 3 toxicology tests were performed on her mother, but there are no results as of yet. She also told us the Medical Examiner's Office did do something called a Tryptase test.

"Her tryptase levels did not indicate an allergic response," she said.

Jones feels more tests should have been performed before releasing her mother's body.

"I think there is a lot we don't know on how the vaccine works in people with underlying health conditions," she said.

The CDC and the VDH are investigating Keyes' death. Later Tuesday, officials with VDH told News 3 the cause of her death is currently pending and added that the office is only allowed to provide the cause and manner of death to the media.

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