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Young Mother Dies One Day After Flu Diagnosis

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A young, healthy mother of two from Phoenix died on Nov. 28, one day after doctors told her she had the flu. 

Alani Murrieta, 20, wasn't feeling well on Nov. 26. She left work early that day, unusual for the young mother who family members say was rarely sick, according to KSAZ.

"I saw her on Thanksgiving and she was fine and perfectly healthy," Murrieta's aunt, Stephanie Gonzales, told BuzzFeed News.

The whole family got sick after Thanksgiving, Gonzales said, but everyone made a quick recovery, except for Murrieta. She still wasn't feeling well the next day so her sister took her to urgent care where she was diagnosed with the flu. Doctors sent her home with flu medications, but they didn't help. 

Murrieta's condition worsened overnight and in the morning, her mother took her to the hospital.

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"Her oxygen levels were low. They took an X-ray around 9 that morning, and they told her she had pneumonia, and it kind of just went downhill after that," Gonzales told KSAZ.  "She checked into the hospital at 7:30 and by 3:25 she was gone." 

Doctors tried to save Murrieta, but nothing worked. They put her on a ventilator but then her heart stopped. 

"They were trying to resuscitate her, and they tried for several minutes and they told my sister there was nothing else they could do, that she was gone," Gonzales said. "Never in a million years would we have thought that we would have lost her that day like this."

The flu and pneumonia killed almost a million people between 1999 and 2015, according to Newsweek. But Murrieta's demographic, young people in their early 20s, are among the least likely to die from the virus. 

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"Influenza is a nasty virus that can attack a perfectly healthy child or young adult in the prime of their life," Dr. William Schaffner told Newsweek. "It's just an ominous annual lesson." 

"We have a pretty good vaccine that each and every year does a lot of good," Schaffner continued. "Even if the vaccine doesn't prevent every flu case, people who have gotten the vaccine generally have a more mild infection. It may also help prevent the disease from spreading to people who are most vulnerable."

Gonzales said Murrieta never got a flu shot, but it is unclear if the vaccine would have saved her life.

Murrieta leaves behind her children, 2-year-old AJ and 6-month-old Jr.

"She would do anything for her sons -- and it breaks my heart that the little one, who's only six months, will grow up without her," Gonzales told BuzzFeed News. "She was just a beautiful person -- and we want to express our gratitude for everyone who has shown support for our family."

Sources: KSAZ, BuzzFeed News, Newsweek / Featured Image: Airman 1st Class Vernon Young/U.S. Air Force / Embedded Images: KSAZ, Alani Murrieta/Facebook via BuzzFeed News

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