Parents given date for son’s death Frightening swine flu
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.’’