As countless reports have reflected, a fatal flu season is upon us.
From a mom who lost her perfectly healthy 27-year-old daughter to a father who lost his vibrant 7-year-old two days after she complained of a sore throat, parents across America are grieving the loss of children taken too soon by 2018’s deadly strain of influenza. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported in mid-January that the death toll for children had reached thirty this flu season, and that number is steadily rising.
But this unrelenting virus is not only targeting youth. Fifty-one-year-old Brian Herndon recently lost both his feet and nine fingers after going into septic shock from flu complications.
“One minute you’ve got the flu and the next minute you’re septic,” the Texas father told WFAA via Skype on Sunday.
On January 4, Brian was diagnosed with the flu; the next day, he came down with pneumonia and went into septic shock.
According to Medical News Today, septic shock “occurs when an overwhelming infection leads to life-threatening low blood pressure.” When blood pressure drops, blood flow is reduced to the vital organs which can lead to organ failure, other serious injury, and even death.
Septic shock is “most common in people who are already affected by illnesses that weaken the immune system”—but similar to many cases reported in recent months, Brian had no preexisting medical problems that would have made him more prone to such severe complications.
“He had a 104.7 temperature right away,” said his wife Jaye. “And then he had trouble breathing. We didn’t wait, we went to the ER. It was that quick.”
After blood clots developed in his extremities, the father of two was forced to have his lower legs amputated and will need to get prosthetics.
Jaye posted the following update on the family’s GoFundMe page:
“Brian has been facing all kinds of complications due to flu, pneumonia, septic shock, and multi organ failure. As of today Brian will need prosthetics for both legs, below the knee. He will also need special hand work as parts of every finger have been removed. While this is a challenging complication, we can do this together. Our amount needed is rapidly growing but your help makes a huge difference. Every dollar will help show love to an amazing man! Funds will be used for prosthetics and his medical care. Thank you!!”
After her husband’s near brush with death, Jaye is on a mission to make others aware of just how pressing it is to catch flu symptoms early on.
“This flu is serious business,” she urged. “People need to pay attention to it. Do not send your kids to school with a fever. We have to help each other out. Not everyone’s body deals with the flu-like maybe yours does.”
Though Brian’s case is certainly tragic, it’s not the worst case scenario that flu victims have seen this season. The Star-Telegram reported that there have been “54 flu-related deaths in Dallas County since Oct. 1, and at least 23 in Tarrant County.”
In spite of Brian’s critical condition, the Herndon’s deep-seated Christian faith has helped them remain positive and hopeful for his full recovery.
“He’s a man of faith, and we’re all just trusting God to carry him through and bring us to that new normal,” says Jaye.
If you’d like to join in helping the Herndon family financially, you may donate to their GoFundMe page here.