Dad says Cary teen died from flu

February 7, 2011 2:16:23 PM PST
The father of a Cary High School student who died at UNC last week says his daughter died from complications from the flu.

Roy Taylor said his 18-year-old daughter Katie went to WakeMed for dehydration after being sick for about a week.

He said she experienced low blood pressure and fluctuating heart rate so they did a heart catheterization. She was rushed to UNC where she died a few hours later.

"Finding out Thursday afternoon that she was undergoing heart catheterization for an 18-year-old girl with no known medical condition was shocking," said Taylor.

Taylor - who said he's worked as a EMT for 30 years - said that doctors told the family that the H1N1 virus attacked Katie's heart muscle. He explained that in some cases, antibodies that are supposed to fight the flu virus instead start attacking the organ where it lands, and in his daughter’s case, it was her heart.

Katie Taylor turned 18 in December. She learned just two weeks ago that she had been accepted to Meredith College and was going to receive $8,000 a year in scholarship money. She hoped to become a veterinarian.

"Katie really did have the tenacity to do it and I think she would've been a great vet. She was volunteering at a cat clinic spaying and neutering cats and volunteered at the Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro. So, she was just what every parent wants a good daughter to be," said her father.

Health officials say high school and college students are the least likely to receive flu vaccines. Taylor told ABC11 that he hopes that his daughter's death will inspire more to get the vaccine.

"I want to influence everybody to go out and get a flu shot," he said.

For more on where to get one, go to

Epidemiologist Dr. Zack Moore told ABC11 Monday that even people who had the flu this season should get the vaccine.

"If people were exposed already or had the flu themselves we still recommend getting vaccinated because there's more than one strain of flu circulating," he said.

Moore said there are currently about three common strains circulating and this year's vaccine is a good match for all of them.

"When we've had a good match in the past, the vaccine has been about 70-90 percent effective in preventing the flu so we expect that's the case this year," he explained.

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