Family of 29-year-old killed by flu speaks out

ARCHDALE, N.C. — The family of a vibrant 29-year-old woman is grieving after she died from complications with the flu.

Jennifer Brewer and her family were originally from High Point and moved to Clarksville, Tenn., about two years ago.

She and her parents, Craig and Susan Brewer, were visiting their oldest daughter Renee Brewer in Archdale for Christmas.

“She doesn’t look sick! She was perfectly healthy,” said Renee, looking at the family’s last picture taken together on a trip to Pilot Mountain over the holiday.

Renee said Jennifer started feeling sick two weeks ago but thought it was just a cold or allergies.

“The next day on that Sunday it just progressively got worse. She said, ‘I really don’t feel good,’ and again she didn’t want to be a burden. But she said, ‘I’ve got to go to the doctor.’”

Jennifer went to Urgent Care and Renee said she was diagnosed with the flu and early stages of pneumonia. Renee said her sister was treated with prescription Tamiflu and a Z-pak.

Throughout last week, Jennifer felt weak and had a fever on and off, but she had no severe symptoms until last Friday night.

“By that point she couldn’t even walk to the couch. We called 911, they came out and by that time she was already turning gray.”

Renee said doctors at High Point Regional did everything they could but it was too late; Jennifer was too sick.

She died early Saturday morning on Jan. 4.

“They said she had double pneumonia, the flu and probably a bacterial infection had just went like wildfire through her. They said when that hits you only have minutes to get there.”

As Renee comes to terms with losing her best friend, she wants other families to listen to her strong message.

“If this secret killer hits — it hits. We had only time to get her to the doctor,” she explained. “Don’t wait. If you start just to sniffle funny, get to the doctor. Don’t blow it off that you’ve got a cold. Or you’re going to be like me and you’re going to be burying a relative who’s way too young to go.”

Jennifer’s family described her as gentle, loving and giving. She enjoyed antique shopping and turning her photography into spiritual artwork on her computer.

Many of her pieces were used for church bulletins. “Her passion was spreading the word of Jesus,” said Renee.

Jennifer did not get a flu shot this year. Renee said the coroner told her family a flu shot may not have prevented her from getting this particular strain of flu.

Health Officials are warning people all over the state to get a flu shot. Even if you still contract the virus, they said your symptoms may be milder if you’ve had a vaccine.

Jennifer was the state’s fourteenth case of flu-related death.

As of Thursday, 21 total cases of flu-related death have been reported in North Carolina.

The Brewer family would like donations sent in Jennifer’s honor to the James E. Marshall Foundation dedicated to curing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.