Local teen fighting for life, suffering flu-related illness

Local teen fighting for life, suffering flu-related illness

A local teen is fighting for her life due to a flu-related illness.

Brittan Lewis,18, is in the ICU fighting bilateral pneumonia at West Florida Hospital. Right now, she's on a ventilator and Olive Baptist Church senior pastor Dr. Ted Traylor said she needs all the support she can get.

"The doctor told them last night she was the sickest patient in their ICU unit," said Traylor.

Traylor works with Brittan's dad and executive pastor, Stan Lewis. They've been close friends for 25 years. Lewis asked Traylor to reach out on social media for prayers and he said the response has been phenomenal.

"I came home, put that on Twitter, Facebook and our people and others that we've known all these years just rallied across America and some around the world, just praying for her," said Traylor.

Since flu season started, more than 6,400 people across the United States have been hospitalized for influenza-associated symptoms, that's the latest from the Flu - Serv Network.

"The numbers of sick patients is more than we expected to see at this time of year," said Dr. Trish Stephens, division chief of emergency medicine at Sacred Heart Hospital.

Dr. Stephens said every day, a quarter of the patients who come in, have a flu-like illness, and it's not an isolated epidemic.

"West Florida and Baptist, from talking to physicians who work there, they've been seeing the same mass influx in volume," said Stephens.

Stephens hasn't treated Brittan but said having the flu (a viral infection) as well as pneumonia (a bacterial infection) isn't something to take lightly.

"Statistically, seven percent of people who happen to die from the flu are infected with pneumonia," said Stephens.

Shortness of breath, inability to break a fever and dehydration are all signs Stephens said it's time to head to the emergency room.

For Brittan, the next step is to get her off the ventilator, which could happen as early as Friday. Until then, Traylor recommends spreading some kind words during this tough time.

"Our words are very important," said Traylor. "Not just what we say, but what we keystroke or type, or put on our phone. Those words are very important. Words are power."

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