Sick Mom of 2 Sent Home by Doctor from ER, Has Last Breath 4 Days Later


Though the Spanish flu of 1918 killed some 50 million people a century ago, researchers have recently found that the typical “virus” was not acting alone. In fact, it had another — more deadly — secret lurking behind the deaths of so many men and women, young and old.

Researchers from the National Institue of Health concluded that the contagious virus had a helping hand in its widespread destruction: bacterial pneumonia.

And, as more people continue to become hospitalized today — or pass away — from the flu, doctors are finding that the threat is nearly the same as it was 100 years ago.

Tandy Harmon was a mother of two, maid-of-honor for her best friend, and girlfriend to Steven Lundin, the day she’d come down with the flu. On Monday, she became so sick that she had to go to the emergency room.

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However, the Portland, Oregon, hospital discharged her with a simple case of the flu, only for Harmon to return 24 hours later, sicker than she was before. Soon after her second arrival, the 36-year-old was placed on a ventilator. Three days later, Harmon was dead.

Grief struck the family of four as they found the true culprit of Harmon’s condition to be the flu alongside pneumonia and MRSA — a fatal combination that has left the family with more questions than answers.

“Who’s to blame?” asked Lundin. “Do you blame God? Do you blame the world? Do you blame the doctors?”

The family has questioned how doctors didn’t see how severe the case was until it was too late, and why didn’t they realize how sick Harmon had been the first time she arrived in the ER.

Though infectious disease experts didn’t comment on the details of the situation, they admitted that hospital staff can easily miss the signs of when the ordinary flu suddenly becomes a fatal issue.

“We’re all human beings, and we’re all subject to making decisions occasionally that we wish we had done in another way,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. William Schaffner.

“We wish we could predict the people who are going to take a turn for the worse,” he added. “It’s a gap in our knowledge.”

Schaffner stated that oftentimes the flu — along with many illnesses — are known to be “sneaky” and “devilish” due to the impossibility to pick out the patients who can’t recover as easily as others.

These “devilish” tricks are oftentimes the added issues of pneumonia, MRSA, and even something called a “cytokine storm,” which fatally turns the body’s immune system against itself through the overproduction of immune cells.

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This “storm” is the major reason for the millions of deaths that took mere hours to accomplish during the Spanish flu, and it continues to cause the deaths of thousands of young, healthy people who end up with the flu each year.

Immune cells in the lungs surge due to the “storm” of activation, which results in both lung inflammation and fluid build up, and eventually leads to respiratory distress and pneumonia.

Now that they know how thousands are dying from the widespread virus, infectious disease specialists such as Dr. Buddy Creech admits he would like to see a coordinated effort to obtain blood samples from those that are supposedly “healthy,” yet die from the flu, such as Harmon.

“We would use our absolute best technology to find biomarkers in their blood that would point to some genetic or immune characteristics that make them different,” Creech said.

Though the possibility of finding those answers could save another life, it is too late for Harmon’s family, who set up a GoFundMe page for her children — Madison, 11, and Jimmy, 12. As of Saturday, it had reached over $14,000 of its $10,000 goal.

However, they admit that they hope others will not have to suffer as they had.

“Everything just collapsed within days,” said Lundin. “It was pretty hard to watch.”

“I figured they have an antidote for almost anything,” he added. “But there’s not much they could do. She had the flu.”

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ASU grad who loves all things reading and writing.
Becky is an ASU grad who uses her spare time to read, write and play with her dog, Tasha. Her interests include politics, religion, and all things science. Her work has been published with ASU's Normal Noise, Phoenix Sister Cities, and "Dramatica," a university-run publication in Romania.
Bachelor of Arts in English/Creative Writing
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Politics, Science/Tech, Faith, History, Gender Equality