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Tragic Story of Pregnancy, Miscarriage and Two Lives Threatened by Flu

Last night I read an article on the CNN Health pages that would haunt me in my sleep.  It was entitled Woman with flu miscarries, battles for her life.

A 'Love for Leslie' Facebook page keeps friends and family updated on Leslie Creekmore's condition.

A ‘Love for Leslie’ Facebook page keeps friends and family updated on Leslie Creekmore’s condition.

A young married couple, Chris and Leslie Creekmore, both shared symptoms of the flu earlier this month.  While Chris was able to recover, his wife Leslie, who was 20 weeks pregnant, was admitted to the hospital on January 11th.

In researching tips for a healthy pregnancy, the couple came across a recommendation to avoid the flu vaccine in the first trimester.  Since their OB-GYN agreed, stating that he was wary of giving flu shots during the first trimester, Leslie had planned to get vaccinated on January 13th when she went in for her 20-week ultrasound.  Instead, she succumbed to the flu and was put on a ventilator that day.

She has since been unconscious, suffering a miscarriage, a collapsed lung and a surgery to receive extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy which provides heart-lung bypass support and circulates blood through an artificial lung back to her body.

While Leslie continues to fight for her life, Chris is speaking out and spreading this message:

Vaccinate yourself against the flu.

As I read this tragic story, I couldn’t help but see the faces of all my friends and relatives who are expecting new babies in their lives.  Life is so fragile and I only wish that every expectant couple would be aware of the benefits of flu vaccine during pregnancy.

Dr. Rosanna Gray-Swain, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital where Leslie Creekmore is being cared for, explains that

“Pregnant women are five times more likely to end up in the ICU or have severe complications related to the flu than non-pregnant women who get infected with the flu.”

And while life-threatening developments like Leslie’s are generally rare, they are not unheard of.

Unfortunately, expectant couples like the Creekmores are often mislead by inaccurate information and outdated recommendations.  This is why we continue to emphasize the recommendation that have been made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2004;  pregnant women should receive a flu vaccine as soon as it becomes available in order to protect themselves and their unborn child against serious complications from the flu.

The Creekmore’s tragedy is further exasperated by the fact that their own OB-GYN provided guidance that countered the health recommendations of both the CDC and The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) who has stated, 

“Vaccination early in the season and regardless of gestational age is optimal.”

The reality is that pregnancy can be hard on a woman’s body by putting extra stress on the heart and lungs.  Pregnancy can also affect the immune system and increase a woman risk of becoming severely ill from flu.  Since studies have found that the flu can actually increases a woman’s risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight, it only makes sense that a woman should try to mitigate these risks with a seasonal influenza vaccine.

Not only can are we reassured that the flu shot is safe during pregnancy, but studies support the fact that vaccination during pregnancy offers additional benefits as well.  For instance,

Immunization during pregnancy even helps protect the unborn baby through passive transfer of maternal antibodies.

  • An abstract published by the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society suggests influenza vaccination during the second and third trimester of pregnancy has the potential to confer up to 35 times more protection in the children of those who were vaccinated during pregnancy,  as compared to those who were not.  And that is crucial protection for newborns who can’t be vaccinated until they are six months of age.
  • Mothers who have been vaccinated for flu during pregnancy provide their babies with extra protection against acute respiratory infections.

Of course, there are a few points to keep in mind.  Anyone who receive the flu vaccine may still get the flu, but it is suggested that their case would likely be less severe and complications unlikely.  While the flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women at any trimester, only the injectable vaccine is advised, as the nasal spray vaccine has not been approved for use in pregnant women.

Considering the Creekmore’s experience, it’s no wonder that Chris is encouraging flu vaccination.  Not only has he personally suffered with influenza, but the flu has already claimed the life of his child and continues to threaten the life of his wife.  In honor of their, please take a moment to share these flu vaccine recommendations with anyone you know who may be expecting a child or a grandchild anytime in the future.  Spare them from this heartbreak and encourage them to visit the credible sources listed below so that they can be well-informed about the benefits of flu vaccination.

And if it’s in your heart to help the Creekmore family, visit their Love For Leslie Facebook page or make a donation to help with their expenses on their GoFundMe page.

For Other Pregnancy & Flu Vaccine Resources, Visit the Following Sites:

Flu.gov: Pregnant Women

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Pregnant Women & Influenza

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Seasonal Flu Vaccine Safety & Pregnant Women Q&A

Vaccinate Your Baby:  Influenza Vaccines

Families Fighting Flu

  1. Dani
    January 23, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Reblogged this on Dragon Deliberations.

    Like

  2. January 23, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    While I do not care for adults in general or pregnant women specifically, as a pediatric infectious disease specialist I can say I have seen many, many infants with influenza whose mothers went unvaccinated during pregnancy. The protection against influenza offered to the fetus and the infant during the first six months of life due to vaccination in the mother during pregnancy is undeniable. The flu is no joke as this young woman can attest. It is never too late in the season to get vaccinated–both for your sake and for those around you and whom you may care for who are unable to be vaccinated themselves. I agree wholeheartedly with the message of this horrible story–get the flu vaccine and get it early!!

    Like

  3. January 23, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    My cousin was pregnant and contracted an upper respiratory infection while pregnant and was not able to receive antibiotics etc. because of the threat to the infant. As a result, the virus infected her heart muscle, and she was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy. She went into Atrial fibrillation as a result of both, and lost the baby. Then she had to have a heart transplant. It doesn’t happen if it doesn’t happen to someone you love…which is the thinking unfortunately of many people. I believe in flu vaccinations…they are a dead virus in the vaccine, not live.

    Like

  4. January 23, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    That’s an awful story, Beth. Influenza can absolutely cause myocarditis–inflammation of the heart muscle–and can lead to problems just like what you described, including the need for a heart transplant. It can be a truly horrendous disease; glad to hear you believe in vaccinating!

    Also, to anyone else who might read my comment, in my opening line “While I do not care for…” I meant in a professional medical capacity as a pediatrician–in general, of course I deeply care about everyone regardless of age or gender or pregnancy status…:-)

    Like

  5. Christine
    January 24, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Saul, thanks for the clarification. I actually did read it as you personally did not care for them. I appreciated your imput on this sad situation. I need to go get my flu shot today.

    Like

  6. January 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm
  7. January 24, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    On the other hand, people in general could stop relying so heavily on medications and running to the drug store every time they start sniffling (fyi: there is actually sniffle medication for children) then perhaps people could develop strong immune systems. I do agree the story is tragic, and I do believe in vaccines. However, I also believe that most people rely too heavily on medication for the simplest of things. Now we face viruses, bacteria, etc that have become more deadly due to their resistance to our medications. Yes, go and get vaccinated, but the next time you get a stuffy nose or are feeling a little congested, think about whether you really need to take something or if you’re just doing it because being sick is an inconvenience.

    Like

  8. Lawrence
    January 24, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    @Amanda – I wish parents would be smarter & not constantly demand antibiotics from their pediatricians whenever their kids get a cold….and if they would get their kids their flu shots, they would be much less likely to have them get the flu (which would be a major concern) – as opposed to just a seasonal cold or two.

    And I agree – feel free to take something for the symptoms – but don’t go running to the doctor if you don’t have to.

    Like

  9. Marlene Dolan
    January 25, 2014 at 11:01 am

    One of the scientific reasons that put pregnant women at risk for influenza complications is the cardiac burden of supporting her unborn child. I believe listing specific, clear explanations of why pregnancy puts a healthy female at higher risk may make sense to some who remain objectors to the vaccine. Use the science to convince.

    Like

  10. dingo199
    February 12, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    So sad to see that this brave woman has lost her fight for life.
    My deepest sympathies to her husband and family.

    Like

  11. novalox
    February 14, 2014 at 12:26 am

    My condolences to Chris Creekmore and his family for his loss.

    Like

  12. Chris
    February 14, 2014 at 3:05 am

    I am so sorry this happened. Her husband must be devastated.

    What makes me freak out is that over twenty years ago I had a horrible flu while pregnant with my first child, and he had has several medical issues. I was actually asked at the children’s hospital where he was transferred to if I had some major illness. I told them I had a terrible flu infection, but that was dismissed.

    Who knows if that infection was not the source of his issues. We will never know.

    But we do know it is better to prevent those infections. Because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    Like

  13. Lawrence
    February 14, 2014 at 10:09 am

    My condolences to the family – I can only hope that with increased awareness of the risk factors involved, people will renew their faith in vaccinations & help prevent these tragedies in the future.

    Like

  14. dhongi
    February 15, 2014 at 1:33 am

    I am so very sorry for your loss. What a tragic time for your family. Thank you for sharing your very important story.

    Like

  15. January 20, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Hi,i wonder why people still don’t believe that roots and herbs are very essential and fruitful in different aspect,especially when you can’t conceive and bear children. I am a living witness because I tried all I could to be pregnant but all to no avail,until I contacted Native Hindi,who gave me some roots and herbs syrup and told me when to have sex with my man.I missed my menstrual flow within a short period of taking it,and the doctor confirmed that I am pregnant. I am very glad to tell the world that I am a mother of a bouncing baby boy,contact him for your own testimony on: hindinative@yahoo.com .

    Like

  16. Chris
    January 20, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    Well, sarah, all you have to do is gather up all of your evidence, write it up and get it published in a peer reviewed journal. Until then you have just given us one anecdote on a three year old article.

    Like

  17. Chris
    January 20, 2017 at 5:52 pm

    …. which was just worthless spam.

    Like

  1. January 24, 2014 at 1:21 pm

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