A healthy 27-year-old father of three dies from the flu. These were his first symptoms

Quenten Thomas, 27, a father of three young children in Marysville, Tennessee, died last week due to complications from the flu.

He was coughing and having trouble breathing, his father, Robert Thomas, told NBC News.

“It hurt a lot to cough and it was hard for him to catch his breath,” Robert Thomas recalled. He had been wearing a finger monitor to monitor his blood oxygen levels. “He noticed that his oxygen was getting low, so he went to the hospital and asked for oxygen first,” said Robert Thomas.

Quenten Thomas, 27, died from flu complications on January 6, 2024. He went to the hospital before he died, but was sent home.Courtesy Kensie Thomas

The hospital initially sent Quenten Thomas, who had not gotten a flu shot this season, home to recover with water, food and sleep, according to his father. But his oxygen levels were still low and he was still in pain, so he went back.

This time, the doctors took his symptoms more seriously, but his condition soon worsened.

“They connected him to an artificial respirator and he ended up in a coma”, explained Robert Thomas. He died on January 6, 2024. He left behind an 8-year-old daughter, as well as an 11-month-old boy and a 1-month-old girl.

“It’s incredible,” said Robert Thomas, adding that his son was a “healthy, hard-working young man” and “never gave up.”

Flu symptoms in 2024

Across the country, flu activity remains high, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So far this flu season, about 9,400 people have died, and there have been 150,000 hospitalizations and 14 million infections. In the first week of January, the CDC counted 13 flu-related deaths in children, bringing the total to 40 pediatric deaths so far this season.

Data through Jan. 12 (the most recent available) indicated that flu activity may be declining but may rebound again, a CDC spokesperson told NBC News.

This flu season, some doctors have seen symptoms more severe flu infections than usual in young peoplesometimes even if they have had a flu shot, NBC News reported.

Dr. Dhaval Desai, director of Hospital Medicine at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Atlanta, told NBC News that he has recently treated people of various ages with severe flu symptoms. Desai himself battled a serious bout of flu and ended up in the emergency room in November. despite being vaccinated.

Common flu symptoms are:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Sore throat.
  • Headache.
  • Runny nose.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle pain.

Most people who get the flu recover within a week, but some are at higher risk of serious complications, especially those with underlying conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes, as well as older adults. In rare cases, the flu can be serious – and even fatal – in otherwise healthy young people.

Dr. Desai and Dr. Rachael Lee, an associate professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama, told NBC News that some of the most severe flu symptoms they have seen this season are:

  • Dehydration.
  • Wheezing (high-pitched sound of air passing through the ducts).
  • Intense muscle pain and headaches.
  • High fever, sometimes above 10ºF (40ºC).
  • Fatigue.

As the flu continues to spread along with other respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19 and respiratory syncytial virus, experts are urging people to take precautions, especially getting vaccinated and wearing a mask.

Robert Thomas also urges people to take the flu more seriously. And he has a message for those who think they don’t need to get a flu shot: Don’t risk it.

“You may not need the flu vaccine. You may do fine without it (the vaccine),” he said. “(But) you could give the flu to your child, who is younger than you, and they could die from it,” he said.

“If he loves your family, don’t take the risk. Why risk someone you love so much?” he stressed.