The Family’s Story of Perseverance

It’s the worst thing any parent can imagine, losing a child.

Just two short weeks ago, a Bismarck family’s worst nightmare became reality, when they lost their 16-year-old son to a severe asthma attack.

Their story is one of amazing perseverance and positivity, including how this teenager saved multiple lives after losing his own.

On June 13th, the world stopped spinning for Brandon Thomsen’s family.

His mom, Becky Bjerklie explains, “I ran in and right on the floor…I came into see Aaron doing CPR on his brother, and he was blue, and I panicked.”

His step-dad Chris Bjerklie adds, “Within a matter of minutes he went from having troubles to being unconscious.”

The 16-year-old was life-flighted to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

We asked, ‘What was going through your head?’

Becky and Chris share, “Fear…Panic, fear.”

Becky adds, “But honestly, I was one of those mom’s that was like, ‘He’s going to make it through this’.”

Five days later, Brandon passed away, surrounded by family.

Becky shares, “I still had my other son there so I was trying to be strong for him, but inside I was broken. I still am.”

He was given a blanket in the hospital. It now has a place in his room at the foot of his bed.

Becky tells us all about Brandon, “He was my quirky little kid, that like I said, he just loved to be around family.”

Chris adds, “He was really selfless. He always wanted to help others.”

Becky shares, “After all this happened, his best friend Owen came to me and said, ‘Brandon borrowed me $150, I want to pay that back.’ And I said, ‘You know if he felt like you needed that, he gave it to you for a reason.'”

Brandon also had an amazing bond with his dad, Travis Thomsen, and his step-mom, Wanda. They went to a Metallica concert together recently.

Travis says Brandon and his 14-year-old brother, Aaron, rode through life together as a team. And Aaron Thomsen has severe asthma as well.

Becky explains, “Aaron’s asthma is worse, and so I’m terrified. I’m scared having the one who has it worse still go through it.”

She says there were a lot of unknowns with Brandon’s illness, and advises all parents to get their kids allergy tested.

Becky adds, “Everybody has asthma. You just take your inhaler and it’s done. But that’s not the case and it can go bad very, very fast.”

A part of Brandon lives on, just like he wanted. He saved the lives of several people by donating his organs. His liver saved the life of a ten-year-old girl.

All four parents point out the doctors and nursing staff in Bismarck were fantastic, but they were disappointed in the local pediatric care.

Brandon’s mom says they were let down and had to travel because there was no pediatric neurologist. His Dad tells us time was everything, and whether or not the outcome would’ve been different, precious time was lost.