Health

A 37-Year-Old Mother Of 2 Died 3 Days After Flu Diagnosis—And Now Her Family Is Urging Others To Get Flu Shots

This was the first time in several years that she didn't get her flu shot.

The father of an Indiana mother of two who died three days after a flu diagnosis is sharing his daughter’s story in hopes of urging others to get a flu shot.

Thirty-seven-year-old Karlie Slaven was healthy before getting the flu, which came after caring for her husband and two children who had the illness for about a week. She went to the doctor and was diagnosed with the flu. After being sent home with the common suggestions for treating eating the flu, she felt ill enough to head to the ER the next day for chest x-rays.

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Flu Led To Pneumonia

Slaven’s chest x-rays looked clear, so they sent her home again, but two days after her initial diagnosis, Slaven returned to the hospital once again. There, it was discovered that her flu had turned into pneumonia.

Slaven died the next day.

“We all were there, standing around her,” Slaven’s father, Karl Illg, told TV station WCPO. “She left about 6:30 in the morning.”

The flu has been exceptionally bad this year, with the illness having killed 37 children, in addition to thousands of adults, with some schools  going so far as to close for “flu days.” Add to that the news that this year’s flu shot is not very effective at preventing one of the nastiest and most common strains of the flu, H3N2. Even so, experts are urging people to still get a flu shot.

Senior Citizens Receive Flu Shots
Getty Images | Tim Boyle

Grieving Father Urges People To Get The Flu Shot

So is Illg, who says that although his son-in law, Mike, and his grandchildren received flu shots this season, his late daughter did not—for the first time in a long time.

Illg said he plans to place an annual “In Memorium” notice in the newspaper to remind people how his daughter died and why it’s important to get your flu shot.

“(We’re doing this) for Karlie,” he said. “Telling her all we still love her and to let people know that they should get over their prejudices and biases about shots and things and get them because I might have a daughter still.”

WCPO

GoFundMe page has been set up in Slaven’s honor by her coworkers at the Indiana University Office of Research Administration to help support the future needs and goals of her two children. Almost $16,000 was raised in the first few days of the campaign.

“She was an exceptional colleague whose talent and generous spirit touched many of us,” the GoFundMe page reads. “This is a painful time for Karlie’s family and those that knew her.”

Slaven lived in Hendricks Country west of Indianapolis.

RELATED: Mom Urges Parents To Take Kids To ER After 7-year-old Son Dies Day After Flu Diagnosis

Know The Symptoms

Flu symptoms include fever, chills, aches, sore throat, headache and cough, but although you may feel awful, it’s not always an emergency.

flu photo
Getty Images | Joe Raedle

If you have difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, chest or severe abdominal pain, confusion or sudden dizziness, however, a trip to the emergency room is a good idea. This article can help you determine when your symptoms warrant a trip to the emergency room.

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of pneumonia may include:

  • Chest pain when you breathe or cough
  • Confusion or changes in mental awareness (in adults age 65 and older)
  • Cough, which may produce phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Fever, sweating and shaking chills
  • Lower than normal body temperature (in adults older than age 65 and people with weak immune systems)
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Shortness of breath

Mayo also notes that newborns and infants may not show any sign of the infection, though they may vomit, have a fever and cough, appear restless or tired and without energy, or have difficulty breathing and eating.

Pneumonia can develop quickly, as it did in Slaven’s case and the case of another mother of two, Alani “Joie” Murrietta who died in December after her flu virus led to pneumonia.

Go Fund Me

Getting familiar with signs of complications can help—especially for those who are at high risk, such as the very young, very old and those with compromised immune systems.

The flu has reached epidemic proportions in all 50 states.

RELATED: If you have the common cold, here are some tips on how to take care of yourself: