Healthy You - Every Day

Motivated by Martin

Diane McGowan and her daughter Nadean Geiger are sharing their story in the hopes that others realize that not getting immunized against seasonal influenza can lead to tragedy


Martin McGowan was a typical, healthy 15-year-old boy. He loved baseball, making people laugh and dreamed of being on the Nazareth baseball team. When he got sick the day of his baseball tryouts in 2005, his mom, Diane, asked if he was sure he should go. Martin replied he had to go since it was try-outs, and he would be fine.

However, that night Diane says things took a turn for the worse. “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.”

Finding purpose: Flu fighting

After Martin’s death, the McGowan’s were determined to help others learn the dangers of the flu. They formed M.A.R.T.I.N (May All Receive Their Immunizations Now) Flu Foundation. The non-profit organization provides information about the flu virus so that people understand the importance of immunizations.  

They also found a partner in Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN). Each year since 2006, the McGowan family and their team of volunteers attend the drive-thru flu shot clinics and provide informational brochures to those who come to the event.

The brochure details Martin’s story and reinforces the importance of receiving a seasonal flu vaccination. “Every time we hear a mom or dad tell us – ‘We were in line earlier in the day, got our shots, then read Martin’s story and decided to drive back to the clinic with our kids in the car’ – our hearts skip a beat. Fifteen years later and we are still in awe of LVHN’s commitment to keep the community healthy,” McGowan says.

To learn more about the McGowan’s story, watch the video

Influenza, Flu

What is the Flu?

Influenza (or flu) is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection. It's characterized by the fast onset of fever, muscle aches, sore throat and a nonproductive cough. Flu can make people of any age ill.

Get a flu shot with Lehigh Valley Health Network

Flu shots

The flu affects millions of people each year and can cause severe illness and even lead to death. The flu shot can prevent the flu and minimize illness.

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