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SETX mom loses son to flu-like illness
BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet
According to the Houston Health Department, the flu is responsible for at least 13 deaths in the greater Houston area, which includes Beaumont. The Beaumont Health Director, Sherry Ulmer, tells us the flu is either linked or suspected in the deaths of five people in Beaumont. The most recent: a death on Christmas Day and another on Christmas Eve. Ulmer says most of the deaths are due to the H1N1 strain, also known as swine flu.
A Beaumont woman's son died suddenly from a flu-like illness on December 13th. She is still waiting for lab results to confirm a link to the flu. June Eddingston hopes sharing her son's story will help others be aware of the symptoms and get the medical help they need.
June Eddingston's son, Keith Eddingston, lived in Banderas, Texas. He came to stay with her in Beaumont to celebrate Christmas, but then he got what they thought was a common cold.
"Thursday he went to the doctor and got an antibiotic and was on some type of steroid medication also, and he kept not getting any better; coughing," said Eddingston.
The following Saturday, Keith said he couldn't breathe.
"I took him to the emergency room and his oxygen level was 60," said Eddingston.
A normal oxygen level is 95 to 100. Keith's oxygen level was dangerously low. He was admitted to Christus St. Elizabeth Hospital.
"And the next morning," said Eddingston, "he was heavily sedated and on a ventilator, and I never talked to him again. He never came out of that."
Eddingston says she had thought her son was going to be okay.
"I even took his iPad up the next morning thinking everything was going to be okay, and I was shocked when I went in and I saw him," said Eddingston.
John Keith Eddingston died on December 13th. He was 56 years old.
"He was gone," said Eddingston. "Less than a week in the hospital."
Now, her only link to Keith is the dog he left behind.
"He did not have children, his wife had predeceased- she died of pancreatic cancer seven years ago. That's my only comfort is that he's with her now," said Eddingston.
Eddingston doesn't want anyone to go through what she's gone through and advises people feeling sick to go to a doctor and get a chest x-ray.
"We've got to let people know, to be aware that when you have a cold, it could be fatal. It could have dire consequences, and to get help," said Eddingston.
Eddingston says Keith had not gotten a flu shot. The Beaumont Public Health Director advises everyone to get a flu shot, which protects against the 2009 strain of H1N1.