Emmily's Story (Flu)

Emmily was a healthy, active 13-year old, who ended up in a medically induced coma for nearly 6 weeks as a complication of influenza (flu). The flu vaccine likely saved her life.

It was only a few days before her 14th birthday when Emmily returned from a volleyball tournament feeling sick. She was diagnosed with flu and told to rest and stay home. When her symptoms got worse, her mother took her to urgent care, where she was immediately taken by ambulance to the emergency department at Children’s Minnesota.

She was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit. She experienced respiratory distress, septic shock, and severe lung damage from pneumonia. Emmily was put in a medically induced coma and placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a life support machine that works like an external lung. After 3 months of extensive treatment, she was discharged from the hospital and then spent 2 weeks in a rehabilitation hospital and completed 7 months of physical therapy.

In this video, NFID President Patricia A. Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP, who was part of Emmily’s care team, talks with Emmily about her recovery: “Those of us who know a lot about influenza, critical care, ECMO, and those who survive think that your flu vaccine probably was the thing that allowed you to fight harder and survive. You had just that little bit of edge, enough to give your immune system a heads up.”

Today, Emmily is a healthy, happy college student who wants her peers to understand how bad flu can be and how important it is to get an annual flu vaccine, even for healthy young people like her.


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