Brittney was a happy, healthy child with no history of chronic illness. Prior to her death, no one suggested that Brittney receive a flu vaccine.
On the evening of Sunday, February 15, 2009, 13-year-old Brittney started experiencing cold-like symptoms: cough, sore throat, and congestion. These symptoms continued over the next 48 hours.
On that Tuesday, Brittney felt well enough to attend school. She loved school and being with her friends. She even went to gymnastics that afternoon. But, by that Wednesday, Brittney began complaining that it hurt to breathe and that she was not able to take a deep breath. She also began running a fever of 103 degrees. Her father took her to a local urgent care and the physician recommended cough syrup, a fever reducer, fluid and rest. Her father was instructed that if her symptoms worsened to make an appointment to see her pediatrician. The following day, her breathing became even more labored. She was taken to the pediatrician who immediately had Brittney transported by ambulance to the local hospital.
At the hospital, physicians felt her condition was deteriorating so quickly that it would be best to transport her again to a nearby children’s hospital. Brittney was placed into a medically induced coma due to a collapsed right lung. She was intubated and then transferred to the pediatric ICU of the children’s hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, Brittney went into cardiac arrest. After 50 minutes of CPR, the staff was able to resuscitate her and her heart began beating again. On February 20, 2009 she was placed on an ECMO machine, which oxygenates the body. However, it was determined that her brain had sustained an injury and she was pronounced “brain dead” and taken off life-support.
An autopsy determined her death to be from cerebral herniation, cardiac arrest, and respiratory distress syndrome due to Influenza B.
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. She was athletic and actively involved in the community’s football/cheer team.
In memory of Brittney, the family advocates on the importance of being immunized against the flu every year and educates about other preventative measures to take to help avoid getting influenza.
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