Lafayette student hospitalized for respiratory and cardiac problems

Robert Cuyjet ‘19 was getting ready to head back to Lafayette from his aunt and uncle’s house in a small town in Pennsylvania. It was Jan. 21, and he was trying to beat the storm.

He was horsing around with his cousin as he was packing, until, without warning, Cuyjet collapsed. He was not breathing and did not have a pulse.

Both his aunt and uncle are physical therapists, so they were able to administer CPR. An ambulance picked Robert up, and he was rushed to Wilkes Barre General Hospital. Even though his aunt and uncle live in a small town—and the street their house is on does not have a name—the EMT knew where to go, since he is a friend of one of Robert’s cousins.

The doctors at Wilkes Barre General Hospital realized he needed more attention, so he was airlifted to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center.

“His body completely shut down,” said Chuck, who drove to the hospital with his wife, Sheila, his daughter, Esther, from their home in Northern Virginia as soon as they heard the news.

According to his father, the doctors do not know what caused Robert to collapse. At press time, he is heavily sedated at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, and his heart is beating on its own, but there is still fluid in his lungs. There does not appear to be any heart damage, Chuck said. The doctors are slowly waking him up from the sedation, and Robert is responding to touch.

Due to the circumstances, Robert has officially been withdrawn from the spring semester. One of his close friends, Sydney Edelson ‘19,who lives in Watson Hall with Robert, said he was like the “dad” of their friend group.

“It seems like a piece of our family puzzle is gone,” said Olivia Grigaux ‘19, who also lives in Watson and is Robert’s friend.

Robert lived a healthy lifestyle, Grigaux and Edelson said. He ran track and swam in at WT Woodson High School in Fairfax, Va. and was conscious of what he ate. Chuck said Robert was out skiing the day before he collapsed.

The day Robert, a Marquis scholar, came home from completing his first semester at Lafayette, Chuck said he told him, “You are growing into the man that I have always wanted to be.”

When he was about two years old, his parents hired a babysitter to watch him at the house they just moved into when they went on a date, Chuck said. The babysitter walked him down the street in a stroller, and Robert was able to remember the names of all his neighbors—including those who were not home—theirkids and their pets.

“He’s a leader,” said Chuck, a semi-retired executives and leadership coach. “And I know people say that—I mean to tell you very quickly that I know what I mean when I say that.”

Robert, who is 18 years old and celebrates his 19th birthday on Sunday, always lived by the philosophy of treating the janitors the same way as the CEOs, Edelson said. She described him as a “vibrant, buzzing person” and always upbeat.

“We all are just waiting for him to come back,” Edelson said.

About William Gordon

William Gordon '17 is the editor-in-chief of The Lafayette. He writes about student government, law, financial aid and music. He's studying English and government & law with a minor in economics.

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