Lesley Campbell with her late husband Jim Campbell who tragically died from flu in 2016.

My husband died from flu. It could happen to anyone. Even you.

Lesley Campbell speaks out about losing her huband to flu in a bid to stop more people from dying unnecessarily.

Lesley Campbell watched her fit and healthy 53-year-old husband fight for his life after contracting flu in 2016.  After the trauma of watching whilst his organs shut down one by one until his body could no longer cope, she wants to encourage everyone to have their flu jab.

Jim Campbell Lesley’s husband of 30 years and father to their two children, Kirstin and Linzi, never got ill. 

He never needed time off work. 

He had everything to look forward to; his children had flown the nest, retirement was in sight and a first grandchild was on the way.

Jim first got flu symptoms at the end of February, when winter was almost over and getting the flu jab was the last thing on most people’s mind. 

Just two weeks after he was admitted to hospital, he died.

His widow Lesley hopes sharing their story might stop more people from dying unnecessarily.

“Jim was a big bubbly character, a big and fit bloke who had never been ill, other than the odd sniffle now and again,” she said, “so when he started saying that he wasn’t feeling well, I just thought it’s a cold, get over it.

“One night he came home and kept clutching at his chest, saying it was sore, and, unusually for him, didn’t take off his jumper off because he was cold. Looking back now they were obvious symptoms.

“As soon as the doctor took his oxygen levels he told us to go straight to casualty where he was admitted, given oxygen and an X-ray, which showed one of his lungs was cloudy. Overnight he deteriorated and was taken up to ICU.  The next morning he was put into an induced coma.

“For the first few days he was really ill but he would pick back up and then go back down again. He was eventually diagnosed with Influenza A.

“He was on so many drugs and the hospital staff did an amazing job of trying to save him. They were convinced he would pull through, we all were.  I never thought for a minute he would die.  We were devastated and what really saddens me is that he never got to meet his first grandson.

“Flu ravishes you, it destroys everything inside you. I wanted to donate Jim’s organs when he died but there was nothing left to donate.

“Because Jim was never ill he would never have considered having the flu jab, none of us would. I always associated it with people who are elderly or vulnerable. But since Jim died I’ve heard of so many other younger people who have passed away from the flu. I get it every year now and tell everybody I know to get it too.

“The doctors were shocked that none of us were ill and think one of us could have been a carrier. You could be a carrier without ever having a symptom.

“There’s no cost that can be put on saving your life. I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t do it, especially if you’re in a position where you’re coming across people you don’t know every day. You don’t know what you’re picking up and you don’t know if you’re a carrier; you could pass it on to someone without even knowing it. To me, not having your flu jab is not only putting your own life at risk but everyone around you.

“At least with flu you can try and protect yourself before it happens. If you could prevent something happening, why wouldn’t you?

“I know some people don’t get it because they say they get a bit poorly afterwards but what’s a sniffle as opposed to losing someone close to you or fighting for your own life?

“It’s also not good enough to say you’ve never had it so you never will. Jim went from never having had a cold to dying from full-blown flu. It could happen to anyone, including you.”

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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