'Don't lose a loved one like we did," says family of ETX flu vic - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

'Don't lose a loved one like we did," says family of ETX flu victim


Health officials confirmed another flu-related death Thursday in East Texas.

Trinity Mother Frances Health Systems says one person died from the flu on Tuesday at Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler. 

The family of the patient who died says they want to warn everyone about just how serious this virus can be. 

They say the victim, 52-year-old Betty Sanchez, knew how to make people smile. 

"She was an awesome person. If you were down she would make you laugh," says Loretta Homan, Betty's youngest sister.

Betty is gone now, but her sister and best friend are still smiling through their tears over her sudden death. 

"I've lost the dearest, best friend I ever had. She watched my kids grow, I watched her kids grow," says Jaquana Jackson, one of Betty's closest friends. 

Betty was sick with a cough. 

"I took her to the hospital at noon on Monday. I got a call at about six o'clock that evening ... She said I've got pneumonia and I've got the flu both in my lungs," Homan recalls. 

A few hours later, doctors told them Betty had the H1N1 flu strain. 

"My reaction was, 'How do we fix it? What do we do?' He said they were going to try dialysis to see if they could purify her blood," Homan says. 

Betty didn't live long enough to start dialysis. She passed away at 5:30 Tuesday night. 

"When they leave the hospital, that's it. You can't hold them, you can't kiss them goodbye, that's it," says Homan.

Betty's family says doctors told them her body is still contagious. They can't have a viewing or an open casket, a sad reality they don't want other families to face. 

"I can't express enough for people, don't wait around. If you've got a little fever. If you've got a little chill. Go get checked out," Homan says. 

"People, please, take care of yourself. Don't lose a loved one like we did," says Jackson.

Betty was gone from their lives in less than 24 hours. 

"That's how quick the virus decided 'we want her.' No, I take that back. No, I won't say the "virus". That's how quick God wanted her. God had prepared a place for her and he was ready for his angel and he took her home," Jackson says. 

The family says they can already feel her watching over them. 

If you would like to help Betty's family cover her funeral costs, you can make a donation to the Betty Sanchez fund at any Austin Bank in Tyler. 

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