There was a time when Diane McGowan looked at the seasonal flu as an annual nuisance. “I weathered the storm by wrapping myself in several blankets to sweat it out, stayed on the couch, and had my husband take care of the kids and the household for the next several days. It was draining but the next season, I would do it all over again because I did not like needles. Little did I know what this cycle would cost me in the end,” McGowan says.
In 2005, McGowan’s 15-year-old son, Martin, became very ill. “We didn’t know it, but he had the flu,” she says. That night he threw up twice, had a fever, his lips were turning white from dehydration, and he complained of severe leg pain. “By the time we got to the hospital, his internal organs had already begun to break down, and sepsis was beginning,” McGowan says.
Just 16 hours after he first became ill, Martin was taken into surgery, but he did not survive. “Martin’s heart stopped around 6 p.m. and they could not revive him,” McGowan recalls. “My son tested positive for the flu and, as I learned later, the rest of his complications were caused by influenza. Martin was not vaccinated against the flu.”