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Family Stories

The Craft Family

FFF Advocate:
Cheryl Craft (mother)
Place of Residence:
Buffalo, NY
Date of Death:
November 1, 2009
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Chelsea Oliver

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

On October 21, 2009, previously healthy and vibrant 15-year-old Chelsea Oliver started feeling ill. She was weak and dizzy and her stomach bothered her. The next day she had a fever of 102 degrees, so her mother took her to the pediatrician. The pediatrician told her Chelsea had a virus, but with plenty of rest, it would go away on its own. Three days later, Chelsea was complaining of having trouble breathing and of chest pain.

After speaking with her pediatrician again, Chelsea’s mother drove her to the emergency room where Chelsea’s pulse oxygen was at 72 percent. She was admitted into the ICU at Children’s Hospital. Her parents were told that she had pneumonia and sepsis. Later on, they learned she also had H1N1 influenza and MRSA. She was immediately intubated, put in a medically induced coma, and placed on an ECMO machine. The ECMO machine was doing the work for her heart and lungs so they could rest and heal on their own. Over the next several days it was touch and go. She would get a little better and then would get worse again. Her heart was deteriorating and she was in need of a heart transplant, but because of her double-lung pneumonia, she wasn’t a candidate.

On October 31, Chelsea drastically took a turn for the worse. Her vitals were all over the board and the nurses had a hard time getting them back to within normal limits. Her organs were shutting down and she was very jaundiced. Chelsea died in the middle of the night on November 1, 2009.

Chelsea was not vaccinated against H1N1 because, at the time, the vaccine was not available in her community. However, several weeks after Chelsea’s passing, the H1N1 vaccine finally arrived at all of the doctors’ offices in her community. In an effort to continue Chelsea’s legacy, her mother continues to share her story to raise public awareness about the dangers of flu.

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