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Family Stories

The Crane Story

FFF Advocate:
Becky Crane
Place of Residence:
Coos Bay, Oregon
Date of Death:
February 17, 2020
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Blake Crane

Blake’s parents did not know that people can die from flu until their 16-year-old son tragically passed away.

Blake Anthony Crane was a healthy 16-year-old that loved baseball, fishing, playing on his Xbox, reading, and his family. On February 14, 2020, Blake returned from school not feeling well. Flu was spreading in his community, but his grandparents had gifted him with a snowboarding weekend getaway. Although he was tired, he still wanted to go on the family trip. He slept the entire five-hour ride to the resort.

When Blake woke up the next morning, his plan to hit the slopes was put on pause due to a severe sore throat. At a visit to the nearby ER, he tested negative for strep throat and was told he had a virus. By that night, he had developed a cough and complained of upper back pain. His parents, Tony and Becky, thought he was describing a pinched nerve or muscle strain. Blake woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night saying that he couldn’t breathe, but his family assumed his breathlessness was because of his back issue.

The following day, his family decided to head home earlier than planned because Blake was too sick to enjoy snowboarding. After returning home, he went to his room to sleep. A couple of hours later, he started throwing up blood and his parents rushed him to the local hospital. Blake was very weak but walked himself downstairs, into the car, and into the emergency room with his parents at his side.

Once inside the fluorescent lighting of the hospital, it became obvious that he was extremely pale and his lips were blue. During the intake process, the nurse asked his pain level and Blake replied that it was a 7 out of 10. She was struggling to get a read on his oxygen levels from the finger monitor and announced that he was in respiratory distress. While wheeling him down the hall, the nurse shared that she feared he had a collapsed lung from coughing. His parents were shocked at this possibility as the only complication from viruses that they knew of was pneumonia. Chest x-rays indicated his lungs were full of blood, but the doctors couldn’t explain why.

At this point, the doctor announced that they planned to fly Blake to a bigger children’s hospital four hours away and that he was very, very sick. The team tried to get Blake’s oxygen levels up through oxygen masks, but it wasn’t helping, so his parents gave permission for them to intubate him. His parents felt relief when the anesthetic kicked in and his pain was gone but didn’t realize what a serious step the intubation was.

Blood tests came back showing that Blake tested positive for influenza B and he was in multisystem organ failure. The doctor in charge was clear that his prognosis was not good, but that they were doing everything they could. As the flight team from the children’s hospital arrived, Blake took a turn for the worse. He went into cardiac arrest multiple times and died at 2:00 am on February 17, 2020, with his mom whispering in one ear and his dad in the other. Blake’s official cause of death was cardiac arrest caused by septic shock due to influenza B.

While Blake had typically received an annual flu vaccine each year, his routine changed that year. Unfortunately, getting vaccinated slipped through the cracks and other daily demands took priority. Tony and Becky hope that by sharing his story, it will help other parents recognize the warning signs of serious complications from influenza. They now know that annual flu vaccination not only helps to avoid the inconvenience of getting the flu but can also save lives. In memory of Blake, his family works with his high school’s health center to distribute no-cost flu vaccines to students and raise awareness about flu.

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