On Sunday, an Alabama family said their final goodbyes to their 12-year-old son who was put on life support after being diagnosed with the flu, according to reports.
Aaron Masterson, of Huntsville, was taken off of life support after a short battle with the flu, WAFF reports. Aaron was born with cystic fibrosis, a rare, genetic disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system, which amplified the effects of the influenza virus.
“Aaron is unique in that he’s had a life-long illness that has suppressed his immune system, which complicated the flu when it came into his body,” friend of the family, Rev. John Mullaney, told WAFF. “Aaron was Aaron. He wasn’t going to stop being who he was because of any limitations that were put on him by his health.”
Few details about Aaron’s final days have been made public, but a spokesperson for the Madison County Coroner’s office confirms to PEOPLE that Masterson was “very sick” and died from the flu.
In the days following Aaron’s death, the tight-knit community has rallied around the grieving Masterson family, with many sharing memories about the boy.
“We constantly are already going back and forth between tears. Tears of sadness, then tears of joy,” Brandy Worthy, whose 13-year-old son was a close friend of Aaron’s. “We are only one of the families, the many families, that were impacted and touched by Aaron’s life. There are hundreds more stories out there.”
A family friend has started a GoFundMe page for the Mastersons, in which she wrote: “If you’ve ever had the privilege of meeting the Masterson family, you will notice the pure joy that emanates from them.”
She added: “Their presence lights up a room and none more so than Aaron. He was a true Light on the Mountain … How we miss you sweet Aaron!”
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Aaron’s death is one of more than 50 children who have died from the flu this season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently lists the 2017 to 2018 flu season as “moderately severe,” and warns it could get worse.
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) reports that the flu vaccine lessens the chance that someone catches the virus by 10 to 60 percent and doesn’t guarantee that someone will not catch the flu. However, the annual vaccine is highly recommended by the CDC for everyone 6 months and older and the more people that get vaccinated can limit the disease’s spread throughout the community.
Although mild illness does not usually require medical attention, the CDC recommends that people experiencing “emergency warning signs” of the flu go to a local emergency room.
The CDC recommends ER visits for children having breathing troubles, not eating, children who are not interacting, are irritable, show no tears when crying, have a rash and fever, and have “significantly fewer wet diapers than normal.”