A grieving Hamilton County mother has a simple but important message for NewsChannel9 viewers after her son died last months from flu-complications even though he got a flu shot.
So far, there have been 12 flu-related deaths reported in the NewsChannel9 viewing area, and all of those people left behind families, including 25-year-old Edward LeBron Lewis II. Pain still consumes his mother, Sandy Worley Lewis, after losing her football-loving son too soon. She said her son's death was very shocking.
"It's left a void in my life," said Lewis, of Soddy Daisy. "It's hit our family really, really hard. You don't expect ... it's not the natural progression of things. Parents aren't supposed to bury their children. They're supposed to bury us."
Lewis said her son died of complications from the flu on December 3. Lebron had Type I diabetes, and Lewis said her son's immune system was already weakened when he caught the flu and later pneumonia.
Doctors said that combination is alarming.
"What they are worried about and have the right to be is the development of influenza-pneumonia after, within a couple or three days of getting influenza. I've seen a couple of cases of that at Doctors Express this season," said Dr. Charles T. Rudolph, of Doctors Express in Chattanooga. "When someone dies from something potentially preventable, it is sad."
Flu shots protect people from common strands, but doctors admit it isn't fool-proof. Lewis said her son got both flu and pneumonia shots last year, and it wasn't enough. After hearing about other lives claimed from the illness, Lewis' message is clear.
"This stuff's not anything to play around with. If you have a loved one that starts to get symptoms, don't mess around. Seventy-two hours after he started to get sick, he was gone," said Lewis.
Lewis said she hopes others will listen to her son's story and realize the flu outbreak is very serious.
Several Hamilton County clinics are still offering flu shots to anyone who wants one.By Briona Arradondo