Personal Stories

Families Fighting Flu, a Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition member, is made up of families and health care professionals who have experienced first-hand the death of a child due to influenza, or have had a child suffer severe medical complications from the disease.

Below is the story of Breanne Palmer, who lost her life to influenza when she was just 15 months of age.

You can also listen to Breanne's mother, Denise Palmer, tell her daughter's story.

Read more families' stories on Click here to listen to a podcast with the Parents of Kids with Infectious Diseases (PKIDs) Coalition member representative, Trish Parnell, and Joe Lastinger, member of Families Fighting Flu.

Breanne's Story

During the evening of December 20, 2003, 15-month-old Breanne Palmer developed a slight fever and began to show symptoms similar to her brother, who had recently been diagnosed with influenza, also called the flu. The next morning, Breanne's fever rose to 101.5° F. Her parents took her to the pediatrician where she was diagnosed with influenza. Breanne was given antibiotics and sent home.

After visiting the doctor, Breanne took a long nap and her temperature began to come down. Her parents continued to monitor her condition and give Breanne medication for her fever. When Breanne went to bed that night her temperature was almost normal. However, as the night wore on, Breanne's temperature climbed again very rapidly, this time reaching 105.5° F. Her parents put Breanne in a bath to help bring her fever down, but she began to have difficulty breathing so they called 911.

At the hospital, Breanne's temperature rose to 107° F. Her temperature was brought down by the doctors in the emergency room, but Breanne had to be transferred to another hospital for more intensive care. A special life-support machine was needed as the virus began to attack Breanne's heart and brain stem. However, after being transferred to yet another hospital, doctors told Breanne's parents that the damage to her young body was too extensive and there was nothing the life-support machine could do. Breanne died in her mother's arms on December 23, 2003, from influenza.

Breanne's parents tried to get her vaccinated against influenza in early December, but because she was diagnosed with an ear infection at the time, her pediatrician chose to postpone vaccination. Breanne's parents did not know that the influenza vaccine could have been given to Breanne that day, since she did not have a fever at the visit.

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