Heartbroken mum has a powerful message for parents after her 12-year-old dies from the flu

Piper Lowery, 12, died in January from complications from the flu.
Piper Lowery, 12, died in January from complications from the flu. Photo: Pegy Lowery

The mother of a 12-year-old girl who died following complications from the flu, is begging parents to get their children vaccinated.

Pegy Lowery's daughter, Piper, died in January after the H1N1 influenza virus attacked her kidneys. The day before her death, Piper, of Washington, was already in renal failure – something that tragically wasn't picked up.

The 11-year-old's temperature had reached 40.5 degrees and she was experiencing leg and side pains. The healthy little girl fell ill on Tuesday. By Saturday – hours after vomiting blood clots – she was dead.

"For us, it's been really hard," Lowery told CBS news. "All I have now is pictures, an urn sitting on the mantle – and you know, she was just my best buddy."

Afraid of needles, Piper had refused to get the flu vaccination. And - thinking it wasn't necessary – Pegy didn't push her. Now, the grieving mother is raising awareness of the dangers of the flu and the importance of getting vaccinated.

"There are so many stigmas about the flu shot that people are either not educated or there's this fear factor that people put into them," Lowery told CBC news. "But H1N1, the flu, is very deadly. I want to spread this information so people can read it. It really does save lives."

While acknowledging that people can still be affected by the flu after being vaccinated, Pegy told CBS news that having the shot lowers the chance of death up to 80 per cent, depending on the flu season.

"If I had known that," Pegy said, "Maybe I wouldn't have made the option that she not get a flu shot for the last three years."

To help raise awareness and to prevent other families from experiencing their pain, the Washington mother has now joined forces with Fight the Flu Foundation. 

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"I want my daughter's legacy to live on forever," Lowery said. "That's my job now – to be her legacy maker."

The Federal Department of Health recommends that everyone from the age of six months should be vaccinated. In 2015 according to the Australian Childhood Immunisation register, almost 72,000 under the age of seven received the influenza vaccine – up from 47,000 in 2014. 

Around 2000 – 3000 Australians die from the flu each year.

More information and tips on prevention here.