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Kelowna woman in H1N1 coma

Note: For privacy reasons Castanet will not reveal the name of the woman involved in the following story.

A 55-year-old Kelowna woman is in an induced coma in Kelowna General Hospital battling the affects of the H1N1 virus.

She has been in the Critical Care Unit at KGH since Jan 3.

According to her husband (we'll call him Steve) she appears to have contracted the virus while on vacation in Las Vegas.

The family was in Vegas for a week over Christmas.

Steve says his wife woke up Dec 29, the day they were to fly back home, complaining she couldn't breathe.

"It was like an elephant sitting on her chest," he says.

He says he got his wife some juice and water and she took some NyQuil thinking it was just a cold.

"She seemed to settle down," he says.

"She hadn't slept much and she was dragging her butt a bit at the airport, but we left on time and flew back home."

Steve says they eventually went to a walk-in clinic on New Year's Eve and eventually to emergency a few days later when she still didn't feel well.

"I put her in a wheelchair and wheeled her in," says Steve.

"The emergency nurse took one look at her and could see what was going on. She took the wheelchair from my hands and took her in the back. By 11 a.m. the next morning they told me they would have to induce her and put her in this drug induced coma."

He says at the time she was admitted, his wife only had about 10 per cent lung capacity.

After 11 days in a drug induced coma Steve says his wife appears to be making a turn for the better.

"You can tell," he says, "her numbers are coming back to normal ranges and her x-rays are starting to clean up."

"Without them (Doctors) saying anything definitive one way or another you can glean from their actions and what they are doing and how they are bleeding her off of the drugs and some of her oxygen concentrations, (shows) that they are optimistic."

While Steve has never before had a flu shot he says this is the first year his wife has not had the shot.

Steve says his wife's illness was enough to prompt him to get inoculated.

So far at least two people, including an Okanagan woman in her 50's, have died as a result of the H1N1 virus in BC. In Alberta ten people have died from it. Across the country, including BC and Alberta, there were 26 confirmed deaths from H1N1 as of Jan. 13.

News reports out of Nevada indicate three people in Southern Nevada have died as a result of the flu.

While there has been no official confirmation those people died from the H1N1 virus, the US Center for Disease Control says H1N1 is the most common strain being detected this flu season.

Click here to find out more about vaccine availability.


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