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Man lived life to the fullest before his death

By Jeff Hansel

jhansel@postbulletin.com

PLAINVIEW — Jared Neumann acted his whole life as if nothing was wrong.

Some people probably didn’t even know before he died at the age of 25 that he lived all those years through the use of a battery pack, with two wires — and a metal thing the size of two half dollars — implanted in his chest.

Jared, a lifelong farmer, grew up in Plainview on the Neumann Century Farm. He became a fifth-generation farmer when he began farming in partnership with his dad, Tom.

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But before his life really even got started, Jared had a rocky road.

"He went from being a normal baby, breast feeding at noon. At 6 o’clock at night, he started futzing, and by 8 o’clock his temperature started dropping," said his mother, Roxann Neumann. He wasn’t expected to live when they arrived at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester.

"He had his first cardiac arrest minutes after we got to the hospital," Neumann said.

Jared improved with drugs, electrical shocks and a temporary pacemaker later.

Infant Jared

"I remember early in October of 1981. I remember so clearly because I had just joined the staff here at Mayo, and I got called in the middle of the night about this child," said Dr. David Driscoll, a pediatric cardiologist at Mayo. Infant Jared, at 17 days old, had a complete electrical heart block "from top to bottom."

"This guy was sick as anything. He looked awful," Driscoll said. Heart muscle inflammation called myocarditis developed.

"Once we established a normal (heart) rhythm, he improved considerably," Driscoll said. Concern about kidney function was replaced with jubilation when urine output increased.

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"He’s much better," Driscoll told the Neumanns. "He’s peeing like a race horse."

"And they’re farmers — and they knew what I meant by that," Driscoll said. It was the start of a long and necessarily close relationship between the family and the medical team at Mayo.

A permanent pediatric pacemaker was placed in Jared’s chest, perhaps the first ever done at Mayo Clinic.

More than two decades later, Jared contracted an infection of his pacemaker leads after getting a new model. The pacemaker had to be replaced. He died in January during the surgery to replace it.

"He was doing well (in life)," Driscoll said. "It was just a bad complication."

Family members take solace in the fact that while Jared lived, he loved everything about life, he lived fast and furious and he started a family with fiancé Amanda Rabehl, and their son, Ethan Thomas Neumann. Ethan was just 4 weeks old when his dad died.

On Dec. 4, Jared had the new pacemaker implanted; his sixth or seventh. His son was born Dec. 11. During the interim, he developed the infection. The Sunday before Jared died, Ethan was baptized at his father’s insistence. Jared’s funeral was held in the same church the next weekend.

A farmer

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"He loved farming. He drove a truck for a while after he finished school, but his love was farming," Driscoll said. The relationship between Driscoll and Neumann was closer than the normal doctor-patient one. After all, Driscoll followed Jared’s case from the beginning as the boy grew into an accomplished adult farmer who ran his own hay baling business, Neumann Custom Hay. Driscoll visited Jared at the Neumann farm.

"He took me around, and showed me the baby cows, the calves," Driscoll said.

Doctors were necessarily blunt. Jared wasn’t expected to live, period.

"He was alive a very short time, but in that time he met and fell in love with Amanda. They had a beautiful baby boy. He had a job he loved. What more could we ask for?" his mother said.

Rabehl said she’s thankful Jared fit so much life into such a short time. She’s been folded into the Neumann family as if she were a daughter-in-law.

"We are a family. We have to pull as a family. That’s something we’ve always done is pull as a family," Roxann Neumann said.

Jared’s whole family is thankful he got to spend time with his son.

"When he left for surgery, the last thing I said to him was I love you," Rabehl said.

"What’s ironic," Driscoll said, "is he died. He clearly needed a pacemaker, but he died because of an infection of the pacemaker."

Neumann’s care, he said, was "a big team effort. What a nice young man he was."

Driscoll’s job often takes him to the Plainview area. "On the way back," he said, "I’ll frequently stop at the cemetery just to sit for a while."

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