On the evening of Friday, October 2, 2009, previously healthy, athletic 15-year-old Luke Duvall was exhausted, but geared up and played in his high school football game anyway. The next day he woke up feeling worse, and by that Sunday, he had a fever of 104.3 degrees. His parents worried that Luke was suffering from H1N1 influenza and tried to get him in to see a doctor, but the first available appointment was not until that Monday afternoon. The fever continued through Monday, and when his father took him to the medical clinic, Luke’s parents’ fears were confirmed when he was diagnosed with the flu. He was sent home to rest and was given diarrhea and nausea medicine. However, one important thing that the doctor overlooked was that Luke’s lung was filling up with mucus.
The next day Luke began spitting up blood and had great difficulty breathing. He was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. With his lung packed with bloody mucus, Luke was kept in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in critical condition. The following morning Luke was medevaced to Arkansas Children’s Hospital for more intensive care. Luke was tested and eventually diagnosed with H1N1.
Luke could not breathe without a ventilator and remained in the Pediatric ICU for days. The doctors induced a coma so that he would remain unconscious and not have to bear the pain and discomfort of the ventilator. His condition would improve and then worsen again, a cycle that was very difficult for his parents to witness. After a week, Luke suffered a serious setback. The doctors called in his family and his mother fell on her knees to pray for his life. From that point forward, Luke improved as his lungs got better and his blood pressure stayed normal. Luke came out of his coma after 12 days but a tube remained in his throat for the next five days. He was extubated on October 24 and entered rehab four days later in order to regain his basic living skills.
One month after the onset of H1N1, Luke returned home 36 pounds lighter and substantially weaker. Thanks to the support of his family, doctors and the rehabilitation workers, Luke has returned to school and continues to get stronger.
While Luke has his health back, he continues to think about the young children he witnessed suffering from H1N1 in the hospital, some who didn’t make it out alive. He wonders how different things would have played out if he and the others in the hospital had been vaccinated against H1N1. Now, Luke and his entire family get vaccinated against the flu every year.
To read Luke’s remarkable story in his own words, click here.
- Chad and Belinda Duvall (father and mother)
Place of Residence:
- Atkins, Arkansas
- 15-years-old, 2009 H1N1