April Bapp said of her daughter, "She was valedictorian of her class in high school; she got the state scholarship that paid tuition to college."
But Rebecca Bapp of Brownington will never graduate. She died last month. At first doctors were puzzled. What killed this 21-year-old just hours after her parents brought her to the ER for shortness of breath?
April Bapp: They said her reaction should not have been that bad from high sugar.
Reporter Jennifer Reading: So at that point, they didn't know what was wrong?
Bapp: They had no idea.
An autopsy revealed it was blood clot in her lungs. Rebecca's death certificate also listed obesity and her birth control pill as contributing conditions. She was taking Ocella, a generic version of Yasmin. It is similar to the popular pill Yaz which claims to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder and acne in addition to preventing unwanted pregnancy.
"It seems like this is the brand they're pushing to young girls," April Bapp said.
But the safety of Yaz, Yasmin and their generic formulations have come under fire.
"This has been a very controversial topic," said Dr. Mary Cushman, the director of thrombosis and hemostasis at Fletcher Allen Health Care.
Cushman is a blot clot specialist. She says it's the combination of estrodyl and drospirenone in these pills that make it a higher risk.
"It affects clotting function in a more adverse way compared to those other kinds of pills," Cushman explained.
Often these clots occur in the leg veins and can become fatal when they break apart and travel to the lungs, like in Rebecca's case. It's a condition called pulmonary embolism. Cushman says clots are rare, but the risk triples for women on birth control and for Yaz users, it can be 10 times as high. Age, obesity and smoking can also increase the risk. A woman should contact her doctor immediately if she experiences leg swelling, aches and pains in the legs, red streaking, chest pain or shortness of breath while on the pill.
"I just can't believe this would happen," April Bapp said. "People need to be aware how dangerous it is."
Rebecca's mom hopes by talking about her daughter's death it might spare another family the heartache of losing a child.
"We didn't really know how serious the side effects can be from this particular brand and we just don't want it to happen to someone else," she said.
Yaz and Yasmin are manufactured by Bayer Pharmaceuticals. Rebecca Bapp was prescribed the generic Ocella which is made by Barr Laboratories, a division of the generic drug giant Teva Pharmaceuticals. Teva would not comment on the safety of Ocella, even telling us it's manufactured for Teva by Bayer. Bayer denied that.
The Bapps plan to pursue legal action for their daughter's death.