BAKERSFIELD, CA - She was happy, helpful, and loved her family. That's how the parents of Kern County's first flu fatality describe their daughter, April Dunlap. The 30-year-old died Tuesday from complications linked to the H1N1 virus.
Doctors told April's parents the only thing that would have saved their daughter was the flu shot. April didn't get one and her parents hope this serves as a warning that no one is immune.
"I told her several times in the last few days if you need to go to God, to go. So, finally she did," said April's mother, Traci Rueda.
Rueda says her otherwise healthy daughter fell sick December 9, 2013 while working her shift at the Delano Walmart.
Doctors first diagnosed the California State University Bakersfield graduate with pneumonia. But after a week with no improvements, they went to the hospital.
"Well, it looked in the beginning like she was going to come out of it, but that's an ugly, ugly bug," said Rueda.
"I watched on the news and I seen something about the H1N1 flu going around and I asked her if it was that," said April's father, Billy Dunlap.
Doctors eventually diagnosed April with the aggressive swine flu. The County Health Department says, at last count, there are thirty people hospitalized with various strains of the flu. Two new patients were admitted into ICU Thursday night.
"The doctors tell me she could have got it anywhere," said Rueda.
When medicines and oxygen weren't working, doctors intubated April.
"The last thing she said to me was, that when she had the forced air on, she said, "Mom, it hurts to breathe." And, then they intubated her and I know she understood," said Rueda.
"Just told her if God wanted her, then God could have her, or if she wanted to stay... just to stay," said Billy Dunlap, holding back tears.
Nearly a month after she fell ill, April could not fight anymore. Surrounded by family, she slipped away.
"She just couldn't. She tried so hard and she just couldn't last anymore," said Rueda.
"I always loved her," said Billy Dunlap. "She's a good kid."
The Kern County Health Department is still waiting on tests to see if a 62-year-old woman, who also had flu-like symptoms, also died of the flu.
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