Lindsey Tew was having fun at her middle school Valentine’s Day in 2015 when her throat started to feel scratchy. She was treated for strep the next day.
The following Monday morning, though, she had fever, confusion, and severe chest congestion. Her mother, Kacey Register, drove Lindsey, still in her flannel pajamas and clutching her stuffed bear, to her pediatrician in Sampson County. “I remember stopping at a stop light on the way,” Lindsey said. “That’s pretty much the last thing I remember.”
Her lungs were full of fluid, her blood oxygen was critically low, and she was having serious trouble breathing. The pediatrician’s staff rushed her to nearby Betsy Johnson Hospital, where she was intubated to try to get air into her failing lungs and swiftly put into another ambulance -- racing an approaching winter storm --to better-equipped Wake Med in Raleigh.
By late afternoon, Kacey and her husband Dax were listening in shock as doctors told them that their daughter—who just days before had been a perfectly healthy teenager, the “flyer” on her school’s cheerleading team—had been struck by a devastating combination of influenza, pneumonia, and a MRSA staph infection.