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Tragic H1N1 Flu Death Of University of North Carolina Freshman

lillian-400x300.jpgIf you think that the H1N1 pandemic is slowing down and have grown complacent with vaccination now that vaccines are more widely available, please learn something from last night’s tragic loss of local college student from Rhode Island, Lillian Chason:

A University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student, who friends said was battling complications from the H1N1 virus, died Wednesday evening, according to UNC Hospitals and a Facebook post made by her father.

Freshman Lillian Chason had been in critical condition at UNC Hospitals for weeks. Friends told WRAL News on Tuesday that she started feeling bad before Thanksgiving and went into the hospital on Nov. 20.

“I’m sorry to have to tell everyone that Lillian died this afternoon at 5:20 PM,” her father, Eric Chason, wrote on Facebook Wednesday. “As you all know, she put up an incredible fight and if there was anyway she could have overcome this disease, she would have.”

I don’t know anything about this case other than what is appearing in the local and Rhode Island media and what appears on the Facebook page. However, it appears that Ms. Chason had no underlying pulmonary disease or other health issues.

This is the kind of death we have been worrying about with H1N1: one that strikes the very healthy, young adult population.

Ms. Chason had the best quality of care at one of the top US academic medical centers. I suspect that the UNC Health Care team is distraught and felt helpless in the face of the complication of H1N1 that they could not overcome even with the best medical tools.

Ironically, today’s paper has an article by Sarah Avery entitled, “H1N1 shots arrive as demand dies down.”

So, young and healthy US readers of ScienceBlogs, more H1N1 vaccine has become available around the country so that those at “the back of the line” can now receive theirs. Lauren Neergaard at AP reports that 100 millions doses are estimated to be available by the week’s end.

The vaccine is, of course, not 100% effective but the loss of Lillian Chason should remind us that any shot you have at reducing risk is worth it.

As a father of a young girl, my heart aches for the Chason family.

If you are so inclined, you may register your condolences with the family here.

*This blog post was originally published at Terra Sigillata*

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