ESPN Reporter Edward Aschoff Died On Christmas Eve, His 34th Birthday, of a Rare Disease


CNN reported details of Ed’s illness as related by his fiancée Katy Berteau, who remained at this side continually despite risking her own health. Katy and Ed had planned to be married in April of 2020.

Ed’s career began at ESPN in 2011. His role at ESPN was expanded nationally to include television in 2017. Ed covered SEC college sports for ESPN.

Ed’s last assignment for the network was on November 30th at the Ohio State-Michigan football game in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Ed’s Diagnosis

Ed was diagnosed with HLH which is a rare disease and was also diagnosed with multifocal pneumonia. Originally he was hospitalized and treated for the common type of pneumonia.  The medication he received was not effective and his condition worsened.

After many tests, including bone marrow and lung biopsies, HLH was suspected. Ed was given medication and immediately transferred to ICU but died three days later on Christmas Eve, his 34th birthday.

Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)

HLH is a life-threatening disease that disrupts the stability of the immune system.

HLH most frequently affects infants from birth to age 18. It has also been reported in cases involving adults. It can be triggered by many different events but most commonly occurs through infections.

The syndrome is so rare that it is difficult to diagnose. However, delay in diagnosis precludes a successful outcome. It is critical to get treatment immediately.

Ed had been in good health.  His friends and ESPN associates and even Ed were surprised that his health should fail so suddenly and at such a young age. Many questions surround his death such as “How dangerous is pneumonia?”

About Pneumonia

A simple explanation is that pus and fluid build up in the lung’s air sacs. There are many possible causes such as fungus, virus or bacteria that cause respiratory problems and high fever.

One of the two diagnoses given to Ed, multifocal, means that the pneumonia is in several places.

Healthy people, with the aid of antiviral or antibiotics, are able to fight off the disease. Yet thousands of people die of pneumonia worldwide every year. Those at high risk are the frail, elderly, very young, or those who are immune-compromised.

The other question on everyone’s mind is “What is HLH?”

About HLH

Simply stated, it is a rare disease affecting the immune system.

Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM) goes a step further by explaining that white blood cells attack other blood cells thereby causing an enlarged liver and spleen. The disease may be either acquired or inherited. When the disease is not inherited it may be caused by a weak immune system, infections or cancer. Currently, there is no way to prevent HLH.

The Symptoms

The symptoms, which do not necessarily identify HLH, are rashes, headaches, jaundice, digestive problems, and swollen lymph nodes.

According to Johns Hopkins, acquired forms of HLH may be cleared with treatment. However, if the inherited form of HLH is not treated it can be fatal.

The Treatment

The treatment for HLH may include steroids, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, and antiviral or antibiotic drugs. In the event that these therapies are ineffective, stem cell transplants can possibly cure HLH.

Katy’s Message

Katy sent out a message of gratitude through Ed’s twitter account to all those throughout the country who sent condolences. She included details leading up to his final days.

She thanked everyone for their sympathies and prayers for herself, Ed’s family and friends. Katy said that the messages of love have given her support during this most difficult time.


Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

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