A Texas father’s bout with the flu led to pneumonia and septic shock, forcing doctors to amputate both of his legs below the knee and nine of his fingers.
Brian Herndon, of Fort Worth, was diagnosed with the flu on January 4. He was admitted to the hospital the following day with pneumonia and quickly went into septic shock, according to NBC DFW.
“Brian has been facing all kinds of complications due to flu, pneumonia, and septic shock,” his wife, Jaye Herndon, wrote on a GoFundMe page she created for him. “As of today Brian will need prosthetics for both feet and special hand work as parts of every finger have been amputated.”
She adds that “while this is a challenging complication, we can do this together. Our amount needed is rapidly growing but your help makes a huge difference. Every dollar will help show love to an amazing man.”
On January 6, just 36 hours after his flu diagnosis, Brian, 51, was airlifted to Baylor Hospital in Dallas and has since been in and out of consciousness.
His wife told KHOU that her husband had no previous medical conditions and that he had a 104.7 temperature right away, followed by difficulties breathing.
“We didn’t wait, we went to the ER,” she said. “It was that quick.”
On Sunday, the father of two spoke to the news outlet through Skype and said that “one minute you’ve got the flu and the next minute you’re septic.”
Jaye posted an update on the GoFundMe page on Monday, writing that while Brian had a “positive day,” they’re “still praying for healing to his kidneys to heal and continued respiratory improvements” and decreased pain.
According to NBC DFW, Brian didn’t have his flu shot this year and although he received Tamiflu, he was already in the hospital before he had the chance to take it.
While most people’s immune symptoms work to fight germs to prevent infection, the Sepsis Alliance says that for reasons researchers don’t understand, “sometimes the immune system stops fighting the ‘invaders,’ and begins to turn on itself.” Forty percent of patients diagnosed with severe sepsis do not survive.
The organization adds: “Some people are at higher risk of developing sepsis because they are at higher risk of contracting an infection. These include the very young, the very old, those with chronic illnesses, and those with a weakened or impaired immune system.”
Inflammation caused by sepsis can cause massive organ failure. Warning signs of sepsis include a body temperature of above 101 degrees or below 96.8 degrees fahrenheit, a heart rate higher than 90 beats per minute and a respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute, according to The Mayo Clinic. It’s important to monitor fever levels and fluid intake while ill to lower the possibility of sepsis.
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) currently lists the 2017 to 2018 flu season as “moderately severe,” and warns it could get worse. More than 30 children have succumbed to the virus across the nation so far, PEOPLE confirmed with the CDC.
The 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.
Getting the flu shot and staying home if you’re sick are two of the most important ways to reduce transmission. But the CDC says it’s also important to wash your hands frequently, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wipe down surfaces that may have come into contact with contagion, as flu germs can live on them for up to 24 hours.