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Family Stories

The Mitchell Family

FFF Advocates:
Christa Mitchell (self) and Susan Beasley (mother)
Place of Residence:
Chaplin, KY
30 years old, 2017
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Christa Mitchell

Christa was a healthy 30-year-old mother and wife who as a result of her flu illness, suffered pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, and septic shock, which led to the loss of her fingers and toes.

In December 2017, Christa was a healthy mother and wife who worked full-time and loved to attend her son’s school and sports events. Christa especially loved her family’s beach vacations. Over the holidays, several of her family members had the flu and Christa began feeling ill herself. On December 28, 2017, she sought medical attention for her illness and was diagnosed with influenza. After returning home, Christa began to feel worse. On December 30, she was so sick that her husband had to carry her to the car and take her to the emergency room at their local hospital.

Upon her arrival at the hospital, Christa was diagnosed with H1N1 flu, pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and placed on a ventilator. Due to her fragile medical condition, later that evening, Christa also underwent prone therapy in an effort to move the accumulated fluid in her lungs and improve her oxygenation. Her condition was grim and the doctors informed her family that her prognosis was not good.

Christa was on a ventilator for nine days, had multiple blood transfusions and dialysis treatments, and two thoracentesis procedures (removal of excess fluid from her lungs). In addition to pneumonia and ARDS, Christa also developed septic shock as a complication of her flu illness, which resulted in her losing all of the fingers on her left hand, the fingertips on her right hand, and all of her toes. Christa was hospitalized for a total of 48 days due to her flu-related complications. In addition to her physical ailments, she also developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Christa’s life is now drastically different as she deals with these lifelong medical complications resulting from her illness.

Christa had not been vaccinated against the flu that year because she simply didn’t take the time to get a vaccine. She worked from home and getting a flu vaccine wasn’t on her list of priorities. Christa now shares her story with others to illustrate that the flu can be life-threatening and can cause devastating complications, even to healthy individuals. She works to raise awareness about the seriousness of flu and the critical importance of annual flu vaccination to hopefully prevent someone else from experiencing a similar tragedy.

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