A 6-year-old Minnesota boy was happy and healthy until he came down with H1N1 influenza, but his parents don't believe his flu shot failed him. Instead, they believe that vaccine saved his life.
Anyone who meets 6-year-old Brennan Doherty today might find it hard to imagine that he was in a coma for two weeks in January of 2013. A year later, he is now able to play organized sports again -- but it was a long road to recovery.
"He didn't know how to walk, had trouble using his hands just to feed himself," Deanna Doherty recalled.
When Doherty is out on the basketball court, he loves to show off his moves.
"I like doing the cross over," he said.
For his father, it's a relief to see the young boy being a kid again. One year ago, his outlook seemed a lot different. Even though he had gotten a flu shot, the H1N1 strain put him in Children's Hospital in Minneapolis with two collapsed lungs.
"Healthy kid -- running around having fun, next thing you know, he's in a coma," Ryan Doherty remembered.
Even after Brennan appeared to be back to normal, breathing issues popped up again over the summer.
"Influenza -- some people say it's just the flu, but there can definitely be long-term consequences," Patsy Stinchfield, with Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, said.
According to Stinchfield, flu patients can spend weeks, months or even a full year in recovery -- especially if they try to rush back to normal activity.
"We've had to make some real hard decisions on what Brennan can be involved in -- from organized sports to just going to birthday parties to this winter being really cold," Deanna Doherty said.
As for getting a flu shot again, some parents may be skeptical, but Deanna Doherty believes the vaccine her son got was the difference between life and death.
"I think that if he didn't have that flu shot, he would have still gotten the flu," she said. "It may have been more severe and we would have lost him. So, I really feel like the flu shot saved his life."
Stinchfield says there is evidence to support that theory. Even though those who get the flu shot may still come down with influenza, she said those who are vaccinated are less likely to die -- and even though it's the tail end of the flu season, she says it's never too late to get one.