My name is Denise Palmer. I am now a member of an organization called Families Fighting Flu, Inc., which is a non-profit organization made up of families like mine who have lost a child to influenza, or what most people call the flu.
The families are working together to make sure each mom and dad in America knows how important it is to get their children immunized against influenza. If your child isn’t old enough to be immunized (under 6 months of age), please make sure those around him or her are immunized.
This is the story of my daughter, Breanne, and of Angie Yaksich’s daughter, Alana. We’ve chosen to share our stories with you so that you do not some day share our grief.
I never thought that I could lose my child to influenza – until it happened to me.
In early December, 2003, I took our 15-month-old daughter, Breanne, to the doctor for her well-check appointment. Her pediatrician suspected that she had an ear infection and chose not to vaccinate her against influenza. We never had another opportunity to protect her from the flu.
Breanne’s first flu symptom was a slight fever; the following morning her temperature reached 101.5° F. We took her to a pediatrician (we were currently out of town so this was not the same pediatrician she’d seen previously) who diagnosed her with influenza. She prescribed antibiotics and sent us home. Breanne took a long nap that afternoon and her temperature came down. When she went to bed that night her temperature was almost normal. However, we checked on her before we went to bed and her temperature had reached 105.5° F. We put her in a bath to help bring her fever down, but she started to have trouble breathing so we called 911.
At the hospital, Breanne’s temperature reached 107° F. After several hours, the doctors were able to bring her fever down and transferred her to another hospital for more intensive care. She was put on life support because she was unable to breathe on her own as the virus attacked her body. She was then transferred to another hospital because the doctors wanted to place her on a special life support machine. But, by the time we reached that hospital, the virus had done so much damage to her brain and heart that even if they had put her on the machine, it could not have saved her life. Breanne died in my arms on December 23, 2003.
During the last week of January, 2003, my daughter, Alana, came down with strep throat and was being treated with antibiotics. A day after finishing her course of antibiotics she developed a low-grade fever and was tired, but overall was in good spirits. Her fever was 100° F so we gave her medication early in the evening. She ate pizza and sundaes, played video games, watched movies, and went to bed. Later that evening Alana vomited. Her fever had risen to 104° F; she was shaking and became unresponsive. We called 911 and she was rushed to the hospital. Within 24 hours of her arrival at the hospital, Alana died of flu-related complications that caused swelling and injury to her brain.
We miss our baby girl every second of every day. We just hope another family never has to experience losing a child to the flu.
For more information about Families Fighting Flu and ways to help protect your child from influenza, please visit www.familiesfightingflu.org.
Listen PKIDs’ podcast with Joe Lastinger of Families Fighting Flu[audio:http://www.pkids.org/podcasts/2007/2007-04-18_fff.mp3%5D