Congressman Sean Casten (D-IL) revealed Friday that his 17-year-old daughter Gwen, who died suddenly in June, was a victim of cardiac arrhythmia.
Casten’s “healthy 2022 teenager” was preparing to start her freshman year at the University of Vermont. The family said she was “fully vaccinated,” and had tested positive for COVID multiple times in the months leading up to her death, but did not experience any symptoms.
“This past June, our daughter, Gwen Casten, died of sudden cardiac arrhythmia. In layman’s terms, she was fine, and then her heart stopped,” the Casten family said in a statement. “We don’t know what caused the arrhythmia, and likely never will.”
Police were called to Casten’s home on June 13 around 7:00 a.m., and authorities declared Gwen dead shortly after, according to the Downers Grove Police Department.
“She had just come home from an evening with friends, went to bed and didn’t wake up,” the family said. “We are heartbroken, but we are not unique. Sudden unexplained heart-failure among young, healthy people is rare but real. We are left grasping at the wrong end of random chance.”
The Casten family explained that Gwen was a healthy eater, exercised, and went to regular doctor check-ups. She was passionate about political issues, serving as a co-director for the pro-gun control activist group March for Our Lives and appearing in a campaign video in support of her father.
“It was amazing how she really wanted to do the right thing, but at the same time she was very lighthearted and had a great attitude,” Ammar Hussein, who interned with Gwen, recalled.
The Casten family said they are grateful for the love and support they have received in the months following their daughter’s tragic death. “None of us know when our last heartbeat will come,” the statement added. “The best we can hope for is that when our loved ones do pass, we will have no regrets about the time we were lucky enough to share.”