Par­ents given date for son’s death Fright­en­ing swine flu

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Alexis Gill­ham alexis. gill­ham@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

AF­TER 37 days in in­ten­sive care, nine days in the lung trans­plant ward, 36 days on me­chan­i­cal ven­ti­la­tion, 28 days on dial­y­sis and 20 days on a heart/ lung by­pass ma­chine, Neil Elms is near­ing the end of his ter­ri­fy­ing or­deal fight­ing swine flu.

The par­ents of the 22-yearold Townsville man were even given a date for their son’s death.

Doc­tors at Townsville Hos­pi­tal told them it was the sick­est they had ever seen some­one af­ter he was struck with the ill­ness in Septem­ber 2010 and Neil’s fa­ther Scott said his son was rushed to Prince Charles Hos­pi­tal in Bris­bane days later.

‘‘ Of the 15 cases of pri­mary flu ad­mit­ted to the Townsville Hos­pi­tal in 2010, our 21-year-old son was one of those – he was di­ag­nosed with H1N1 flu ( swine flu) and his ill­ness pro­gressed very quickly to vi­ral pneu­mo­nia and or­gan fail­ure,’’ Scott said. ONE THE MEND: Neil and his mum Sharon yes­ter­day, Hos­pi­tal in Bris­bane sur­rounded by life­sav­ing ma­chines

‘‘ Thanks to a very bright young fe­male In­ten­sive Care Unit doc­tor who made the call at the right time to send him to The Prince Charles Hos­pi­tal in Bris­bane to save his life, he was ad­mit­ted on Wed­nes­day Septem­ber 8 2010 and by the next day he was in ICU, se­dated, ven­ti­lated and paral­ysed med­i­cally.’’

Townsville recorded no new cases of swine flu in 2010 but 15 peo­ple – in­clud­ing Neil – were ad­mit­ted to Townsville Hos­pi­tal with pri­mary flu dur­ing the year.

Two peo­ple died of swine

Neil in the Prince Charles flu in Townsville in 2009 and a fur­ther 42 peo­ple were also ad­mit­ted to Townsville Hos­pi­tal with the ill­ness.

‘‘ Our son was placed on very large doses of nar­cotics, blood thin­ners, other drugs and blood prod­ucts and all up spent 47 days in hos­pi­tal,’’ Scott said. ‘ ‘ With­out the heart/ lung by­pass ma­chine he would have died by the af­ter­noon of the 15 Septem­ber 2010.’’

Neil cel­e­brated his 22nd birth­day while on by­pass. He still has a nerve con­di­tion which af­fects the ten­dons in his toes but other­wise shows few signs of the ill­ness.

‘‘ I can’t re­mem­ber any­thing ( from the or­deal),’’ Neil said.

Neil’s mother Sharon said she and her hus­band had gone t hrough t heir own pe­riod of post-t r au­matic stress af­ter nearly los­ing their son and wanted to share their story in time for the com­ing flu sea­son.

Queens­land Health acting ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of med­i­cal ser­vices Dr Mon­ica Tru­jillo ad­vised a num­ber of pre­cau­tions to re­duce the risk of catch­ing colds or flu.

‘‘ Hy­giene is key. Make sure hands are washed fre­quently with soap and wa­ter or al­co­hol-based hand rubs,’’ she said.

‘‘ Try to avoid con­tact with in­fected peo­ple.

‘‘ Make sure tis­sues used by an in­fected per­son are im­me­di­ately put in a waste bin and if a tis­sue is han­dled, wash hands af­ter.’’

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