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Family Stories

The emotional stories of families whose lives have been permanently altered by the flu.

Our family stories put a face on the flu and illustrate why we’re so driven in our mission. Influenza does not discriminate, and can be a serious – and even deadly – disease for children, adults, and seniors. Our emotional family stories recount how our lives have been permanently altered by the flu. A diverse range of families from across the U.S. and other countries have been brought together by the tragic loss of a loved one from the flu or by a loved one who has experienced serious medical complications from the virus – families who have banded together to heal and work together to ensure that this tragedy does not happen to other families.

Here you’ll learn about a four-year-old girl who went to bed with mild flu-like symptoms, never to wake up; a six-month-old baby boy who died only 30 hours after showing his first symptoms of being sick; and a seemingly healthy 15-year-old who, after baseball team tryouts, began to show flu-like symptoms. Only 24 hours later his heart stopped beating. Sadly, these cases are only a few of many you will read about in this section.

Our Stories...

The Allen Family

Madi survived influenza, but to this day, she still struggles with side effects of her near-death experience.

Read Madi’s story
The Anderson Family

Brittany’s infection with Influenza A started with a sore throat, but rapidly escalated to every parent’s worst nightmare.

Read Britt’s story
The Booth Family

The flu progressed to pneumonia and Austin was also found to have MRSA. It was more than his body could fight.

Read Austin’s story
The Cargile Family

Maya’s mother knows that a flu vaccine could have prevented their horrible ordeal.

Read Maya’s story
The Chandler Family

Chance's family did not know that the vaccine changes annually and as such people need to get vaccinated every year.

Read Chance's Story
The Craft Family

Chelsea was not vaccinated against H1N1 because at the time the vaccine was not available in her community.

Read Chelsea's Story
The D’Imperio Family

The autopsy revealed that James had influenza and a bronchial virus; however, he had no other illnesses or risk factors.

Read James's Story
The Duvall Family

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.

Read Luke's Story
The Estlinbaum Family

Saying goodbye to Tony was something his parent’s hearts couldn’t or wouldn’t prepare for.

Read Tony's Story
The Gonzales Family

At 12:46 p.m. on October 29, 2009, Brandon lost his life to H1N1 influenza. Brandon was not vaccinated against the flu.

Read Brandon's Story
The Gorenstein Family

Drastic changes in blood pressure, failing kidneys and other serious problems plagued Nate’s recovery. But, slowly he started to improve.

Read Nate's Story
The Henderson Family

Elijah died from influenza, just two days after showing his first symptom. He was not vaccinated against the flu.

Read Elijah's Story
The Holt Family

Joey’s brother, Jeffrey, was also hospitalized and admitted for a week because of similar symptoms.

Read Joey's Story
The Jackson Family

This tragedy has made Marques’ mother and grandfather crusaders for yearly influenza vaccinations.

Read Marques' Story
The Kanowitz Family

Amanda’s mother called the family doctor, who told her that she had received over 60 calls that weekend about the same virus.

Read Amanda's Story
The Lastinger Family

After she was bathed and dressed for the doctor’s office, Emily laid down in her parents’ bed to rest and watch TV. She was found lifeless 15 minutes later.

Read Emily's Story
The Lin Family

Trevor’s father is currently campaigning for improved criteria for the health care practitioner evaluation of and hospitalization of children with influenza.

Read Trevor's Story
The Lowery Family

Piper had not been vaccinated against the flu because she did not like needles. Piper’s mother, Pegy, is now an active advocate for annual flu vaccinations.

Read Piper's Story
The Mann-O'Brien Family

Kendra Mann-O’Brien was 35-years-old when she contracted the flu.

Read Kendra's Story
The Marotta Family

Joseph had not been vaccinated against H1N1 influenza because at the time the vaccine was not available in his community.

Read Joseph's Story
The McCarthy Family

What seemed like a little “bug” where she was achy with a fever, turned into her struggling for breath and fighting for her life.

Ready Ayzlee's Story
The McCormick Family

Ashley’s doctors had a hard time finding a hospital that had an available ECMO machine because it was the peak of the flu season and they were all being used.

Read Ashley's Story
The McGowan Family

On February 9, 2005, Martin died of complications from influenza just 24 hours after his first symptom appeared.

Read Martin's Story
The McKinley-Rosen Family

Although he has not spoken a word again since the injury, his mother remains optimistic that she will hear him call her “Mommy” again soon.

Read Christopher's Story
The Miller Family

Caroline had been vaccinated against the flu every year except this particular year.

Read Caroline's Story
The Moise Family

Ian died on December 17, 2003 of complications from Influenza A, approximately 30 hours after he showed his first symptom of being sick.

Read Ian's Story
The Nuland Family

Jacob’s mother knows that the vaccine may have saved his life – it may have given Jacob just enough protection to get through it.

Read Jacob's Story
The Palmer Family

Breanne died in her mother’s arms on December 23, 2003 from Influenza A.

Read Breanne's Story
The Peters Family

Prior to her illness, it was never suggested that Brittney receive a flu vaccine. She was a very happy, healthy child with no history of chronic illness.

Read Brittney's Story
The Pisani Family

Today, Antonio is a healthy child who gets vaccinated against influenza every year, as does his entire family.

Read Antonio's Story
The Smith Family

Her mother frequently shares Cayden’s story in an effort to educate others about the seriousness of the flu and the critical importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older.

Read Cayden's Story
The Smith Family

In the blink of an eye, a parent’s worst nightmare became the Smith’s reality.

Read Noel's Story
The Stein Family

The doctors ran various tests on Jessica, and a pediatric cardiologist was called. After several hours, they determined her heart was a little enlarged, but it beat strongly.

Read Jessica's Story
The Tsoumbakos Family

For many months after influenza, Ayla required a wheelchair and had difficulty walking unassisted.

Read Ayla's Story
The Wehrkamp Family

Her family wants everyone to know how serious the flu can be, even for healthy children like Gianna.

Read Gianna's Story
The Yaksich Family

Within 24 hours of her arrival at the local hospital, Alana died of flu-related complications that caused swelling and injury to her brain.

Read Alana's Story
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