Chelsea Oliver was a vibrant, bright, beautiful 15 year old who loved her family, friends and life. Chelsea loved singing, drawing and volunteering her time to help others. She was involved in All-County Chorus for several years, had several solo parts in the school chorus, was in poetry club, loved drawing for Art class and volunteered her time at the Boys & Girls Club. Chelsea sang the National Anthem for the Canal Fest Race in 2008 and also sang for the congregation at her Grandma’s church. Her favorite color was green, she loved peace symbols and her favorite holiday was Halloween. She dreamed of being on American Idol when she turned 16 and also wanted to become a Pediatrician when she grew up so she could help children. Chelsea loved everyone, no matter who they were, and always put herself last. You’d never see her without a smile on her face… she was such an amazing girl!
On October 25, 2009, Chelsea was admitted into the ICU at Children’s Hospital after being ill for several days. We were told that she had pneumonia and sepsis. Later on, we learned she also had the H1N1 virus and MRSA. She was immediately intubated, put in a medically induced coma and placed on ECMO (a heart and lung machine.) The ECMO machine was doing the work for her heart and lungs so they could rest and heal on their own. Over the next several days it was touch and go. She’d get a little better, then would get worse again. Her heart was deteriorating and she was in need of a heart transplant, but because of her double-lung pneumonia, she wasn’t a candidate.
On October 31st, she drastically took a turn for the worse. Her vitals were all over the board and the nurses were having a hard time getting them back to within normal limits. Her organs were shutting down and she was very jaundiced. She passed away in the middle of the night on November 1, 2009.
Several weeks after Chelsea’s passing, the H1N1 flu shot arrived at all of the doctor’s offices. They had been delayed in getting here, and I can’t help but wonder, if they would’ve been on time and she had gotten that shot, if it would’ve saved her life. Chelsea was healthy up until this point and had no pre-existing conditions.
I know that Chelsea would want to be able to save others’ lives and wouldn’t want anyone else to have to suffer the way she did. In an effort to continue Chelsea’s legacy, the Chelsea Oliver Foundation enhances educational opportunities by providing scholarships to deserving students interested in health care. The foundation also raises public awareness about the dangers of flu.
Courtesy of the Chelsea Oliver Foundation (www.chelseaoliverfoundation.com) and Families Fighting Flu