Campus offers support after talented student’s death

April 11, 2013

by John Lucas

Photo: Henry Mackaman

Henry Mackaman, right, playing with Phantom Vibration last month.

Photo: Mark N. Katarik via The Current

University Health Services and the Division of Student Life are offering support to all students affected by the loss of UW-Madison senior Henry Mackaman.

Mackaman, 21, of St. Paul, Minn., was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and was hospitalized in Madison earlier this week. His family has removed him from life support and is donating his organs to those in need.

"Henry was so loved by everyone who knew him, both in the Twin Cities and here in Madison," says Dean of Students Lori Berquam. "After spending time with his family, I know Henry would be grateful to know that his organs will benefit others."

Mackaman, an economics and English double major, was well known on campus for his love of music, and was the guitarist, producer, and co-founder of a Twin Cities band called Phantom Vibration. He also was DJ for a show on WSUM Student Radio and studied abroad across Europe.

"Please keep Henry and all of us in your thoughts and prayers," wrote Henry's mother, Meredith Mackaman, on his CaringBridge Journal site. "Henry's spirit and the joy he brought to us will live on anytime we share stories of him, listen to music he recorded, and retell the jokes and bad puns he laid on us."

More information about Mackaman's life in music is posted on music blog The Current.

Mackaman is survived by his father, Douglas Mackaman, mother Meredith Leigh Mackaman, brother Owen Lee Mackaman, and stepmother Maggie O'Hara. His father, mother and stepmother are all UW-Madison graduates. Memorial information will be shared as it becomes available.

Students in need of counseling or support are encouraged to contact University Health Services (UHS), which advises that it is normal to experience strong emotional reactions that may overwhelm a person's natural ability to cope. Do not hesitate to ask for help; reaching out is a sign of strength and one of the best strategies for dealing with this type of stress, according to UHS.

Drop in to Counseling and Consultation Services (333 East Campus Mall, 7th floor) anytime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Or call the 24-hour UHS crisis line at 608-265-5600, option 9.

Meningococcal disease is not highly contagious and there is no reason to believe that this case presents a health risk to the UW-Madison community, says Sarah Van Orman, M.D., UHS executive director.

The bacteria are spread only through very close contact with an infected person's oral or nasal secretions, such as by sharing cups, smoking materials and utensils. Students who were in close contact have been treated with antibiotics as a precaution. UHS is coordinating with officials from Public Health Madison-Dane County and will continue to closely monitor the situation.

Meningococcal disease is very rare, often comes on suddenly, and can progress rapidly. It's typically treated with antibiotics, however, even with the best medical care, it can be fatal.

Students who are concerned or have questions about their health should call UHS at 608-265-5600.