Pregnant mother in a coma wakes three months after delivery

A 33 years old woman from Victoria developed a severe case of influenza A or flu in August this year during her pregnancy with her first child. She developed severe complications from the flu and went into a coma and was placed at the intensive care unit at Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital. The obstetricians were left with no choice but to deliver her baby five weeks premature.

Now three months after her delivery, Ms Sarah Hawthorn has finally woken up from her coma to her three month old baby son. Both the mother and son are doing well.  Her family thanked everyone who helped them during this trying time. They had set up a GoFundMe page this September. They managed to raise $30,100 for Sarah’s treatment. The family said that they hoped there would be more awareness regarding flu after this experience is made public.

There was one of the worst flu seasons in Australia this year. While Sarah was lucky, many did not survive the flu episodes. Eight-year-old Melbourne girl Rosie Brealey succumbed to flu this year. This was preceded by deaths of eight older residents at St John’s Retirement Village at Wangaratta during the first half of September. According to the Health Minister Jill Hennessy, Victoria faced a “horror” flu season this year with over 13,000 reported cases of flu seen in the last few months from the hospital records. South Australia too witnessed deaths of four elderly people and two others in the Mt Gambier area. Flu killed a total of 248 individuals this year say the official records. The actual numbers may be higher. Department of Health has confirmed 172,247 cases of flu recorded in 2017. This is an all time high say the officials. This year there have been -

  • 86,567 cases in New South Wales
  • 44,866 in Queensland
  • 17,326 in South Australia
  • 13,654 in Victoria
  • 3656 in Western Australia
  • 2707 in Tasmania
  • 2352 in the Australian Capital Territory and
  • 1119 in the Northern Territory

According to the Immunisation Coalition statistics these numbers are a 156 percent rise from last year’s statistics. They also add that all cases may not have been reported or collated within the final numbers and this means that the actual number of the affected could be much higher.

Flu shots during pregnancy

One of the ways to gain protection from flu is to get vaccinated regularly. Children, elderly and those with a lowered immunity must be vaccinated every year against flu. Pregnancy with flu is usually uneventful with most mothers carrying their baby till term. However if there are complications such as pneumonia or respiratory failure due to swine flu, the mother and the baby might be at a serious risk of miscarriage or death.

Vaccination for flu is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and health authorities in the majority of countries that all pregnant women should be vaccinated against flu in the second and third trimester of pregnancy.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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