Kieyah Ford, 19, is getting back on track after a near-death experience with the flu.
Kieyah Ford, 19, is getting back on track after a near-death experience with the flu. Christopher Chan

Long road to recovery after nearly dying from the flu

JULY 19 will be a significant milestone for the Ford family. It will be one year from when the close-knit family almost lost their daughter Kieyah when she contracted the flu virus.

What began with aches and pains in her neck and vomiting led to Kieyah's heart short-circuiting.

Her brave parents Tristan and Jason were told their daughter would either die or need a heart transplant.

Amazingly, Kieyah beat the odds, surviving and not requiring a transplant.

Looking at Kieyah today, she looks like a normal healthy 19-year-old. But while she's on the road to recovery, her immune system is still affected.

"Because her immune system was down, she caught everything," her mother Tristan said.

"She gets everything 10 times worse than others."

Kieyah said she'd only just started to feel like herself again and still got very tired. But looking ahead, the future is bright.

She's studying primary teaching at university and has her first prac at Clinton next week.

After almost losing their daughter and seeing several other flu patients die at the hospital in Brisbane, the Ford family wants to send a strong message to the community.

"Get the flu shot," Tristan said. "It might not have stopped Kieyah getting sick, but it wouldn't have been as bad."

Tristan said there were no typical flu symptoms.

"Unless you've had a friend or family member go through it, you wouldn't know this could happen," she said.

Kieyah said the flu shot was a must for the majority of her friends.

Almost a year on from the traumatic experience, Tristan still wants to acknowledge the staff at Gladstone Hospital.

"You hear negatives but when it comes to life- threatening situations, they were so good and so fast," she said.

2013 flu season

  • The flu season has started early in Queensland with about 700 laboratory confirmed notifications of influenza already this year, according to Queensland Health Data.
  • The Australian Medical Association of Queensland is urging Queenslanders to get vaccinated early as this flu season shapes up to be a dangerous one.

Have you had this year's flu shot yet?

This poll ended on 13 May 2013.

Current Results





It's on my list of things to do


I don't plan to get it


This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.