A teacher and mother-of-two has died from complications related to the flu after deeming the antiviral medication she was prescribed as too expensive. Heather Holland, of Weatherford, Texas, fell sick last Monday and was diagnosed with the flu on Wednesday.
Medics prescribed her Tamiflu, an antiviral medication that has been used widely during this year’s flu season. Holland thought the pills “cost too much” according to her husband Frank. “She wouldn’t go get medicine because she’s a mama. Mama’s are tough,” said Willow Park Baptist Church pastor Clark Bosher. “She just kept going. She had a job; she had kids. Frank was going to be out of town for a day or two. I think any mom does that. I don’t think she is being irresponsible. I don’t think she thought she was that sick. It happened so quick.”
When her condition worsened, Frank eventually bought her the medication, but it was too late – she quickly deteriorated. “At midnight, she’s on dialysis. By four o’clock, they are calling me saying this thing is going south. And by the time I get back over there, they told me she had passed away,” Bosher added.
“Friday night, things escalated and she ended up in the ICU,” Holland told a local publication. “The doctors got the blood cultures back and they had to put her on dialysis early Saturday.”
24 hours later, Heather went into septic shock and died. She is survived by a 10-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son. “I have to be strong for the kids but it’s still surreal, it hasn’t all set in,” Holland said of his devastating loss. “We’ve been together a long time, over half my life. She’s my best friend, my soulmate, my everything.”
“It hasn’t set in with them yet either,” Holland said of his kids.
Holland said his wife was a passionate teacher with a drive to bring high quality education to their small Texas community. “She loved helping people, helping the kids, and the kids loved her,” he said.
“Today is a difficult day at that campus, and we are working our processes to care for students, parents and staff,” said Charlotte LaGrone, a spokesperson for the Weatherford Independent School District.
Counselors at Bose Ikard Elementary, where Holland taught for the past few years, have said that they will be offering support to students who may find her death difficult to deal with. Weatherford ISD also said that it has taken stringent hygiene precautions to ensure the health and safety of its students during this horrific flu season.
“Our campus custodians have been deep-cleaning our schools since December, and the campus where the teacher worked underwent another deep cleaning on Friday, Feb. 2,” read a written statement from the district.
“We continue to remind students and parents of healthy habits during the cold and flu season.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Holland family. The campaign has already exceeded its $15,000 goal.
“Thank you all for you generosity and kindness. Our family is grateful to you all,” a recent update read. “She was a beautiful soul. So kind,” one person commented on the page. “Love you, Holland Family. Prayers always,” another added.
Despite experts continuing to assert that the spread of flu is reaching its peak, it just keeps getting worse. The CDC believes this could become one of the worst seasons in history. Medical professionals continue to urge those who are infected not to travel to work or into their communities.
“Supporting one’s immune system with good rest and adequate hydration may help reduce the severity of symptoms,” Dr Brian Secemsky, an internist at One Medical in San Francisco, told Daily Mail Online.
“Washing hands often, wearing masks, and staying home from work during periods of fever can help reduce the transmission of the virus,” he added.
A government report released Friday showed that 1 of every 13 visits to the doctor last week was for fever, cough and other symptoms of the flu. That equals the highest level seen in the U.S. during the infamous swine flu epidemic in 2009.
“I wish that there were better news this week,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as reported by TIME. “But almost everything we’re looking at is bad news.”