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Local mom aims to raise awareness for flu prevention

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) - Hundreds die every year from the flu, and with reported cases on the rise this year, a local mom is doing her part to help fight back.

Reports of flu cases are up 66 percent this season. About one year ago, the virus took the life of an 11-year-old girl.

It's a haunting statistic for Amy Stearns.

"One hundred ten children died from the flu; my daughter was one of them," she said.

She's talking about Maddie.

"She is such a wild, free spirit," Stearns said. "She loves with all of her heart unconditionally."

Maddie was a young child with a love for life and a lot of it still ahead. Or at least that's how it should have been.

But last winter everything changed.

"She had a cold."

Stearns took her daughter to the doctor who diagnosed her with an ear infection. But even after taking medicine, something was wrong.

"She ended up not feeling right and having to be transferred by ambulance," Stearns recalled.

That was February 6.

"She was able to squeeze my hand, and that was the last response I got from her," Stearns said.

Two days later, Maddie passed away from complications from the flu virus. In a moment, Stearns life was turned upside down. Now, she's dedicated to spreading awareness.

Stearns is part of the Fight the Flu Foundation. In December, she knitted garments like hats - something Maddie used to enjoy doing - and handed them out to hospitals across the region.

"I feel like it's the best way to honor her," Stearns said.

Stearns recommends getting the flu shot and paying close attention to symptoms.

"If I can save one family, one mother, one father, one brother from growing up without a child or a sibling, then I feel like I've done something," she said.

Stearns said there are currently 31,000 cases of the flu this season. There is also some fear that some hospitals may be facing a shortage of IVs to help treat those who do have it.

 

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