MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities husband wants to warn others after his pregnant wife died from complications due to the flu.
Becca Meissner, 26, became sick while on vacation in Florida last month. What started out as a sore throat quickly turned more serious. Her husband talked about the love of his life, and what he wishes he would have known.
“About two months into the relationship, that’s about how long it took to say ‘Yeah, this is the girl,'” Dave Meissner said. “Her personality, the way she cared about other people, very giving, very selfless, very humble.”
The couple was living their fairytale. Married for 9 months, they’d dated five years. They were looking forward to starting a family. Becca was 20 weeks along.
“Everything was going for us, it was really cool, it was like a fantasy,” Meissner said. “So it threw a curve ball at me, at us.”
While on vacation in Florida with family, Becca got a sore throat. Over the phone, doctors told her to take Tylenol. An urgent care clinic later called it bronchitis induced asthma. Only a day later Becca was incoherent. They rushed her to the ER.
“Within 15 minutes she was intubated. And that’s when I found out we were having twins so we had no idea. She had no idea,” Meissner explained.
Becca’s health quickly declined. Meissner could never have imagined when doctors told him the situation was serious, that meant his wife would not survive.
“I said, ‘Hey cutie,’ and she opened up her eyes and looked at me. And I told her I loved her and she nodded her head and gave me a thumbs up, and so I’m thinking, ‘This is great, Becca’s back,'” Meissner said. “And I asked if she loved me and she nodded her head yes. And I asked if she wanted to know what was going on and she shook her head no, so I told her everything was going to be alright, and that was the last time I spoke to my wife.”
Doctors said Becca suffered from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which was a result of having the H1N1 flu.
“The virus just spread too quickly and attacked multiple areas where it was more reactionary than anything else,” Meissner said.
He wants to turn his indescribable loss into awareness for other families.
“I believe being pregnant is a condition, is a medical condition that turns you…from a young healthy vibrant woman to a high-risk individual,” Meissner said.
“Pregnant women are one of the groups at highest risk for complications due to influenza,” said Kris Ehresmann with the Minnesota Department of Health.
Ehresmann says it’s important for pregnant women to seek care immediately.
“The pregnancy affects all of your body systems, including your circulatory system and things like that so that is what puts you at greater risk for complications of flu,” she said. “So even though you’re healthy, being pregnant changes how your body is working so it can put you at greater risk for influenza.”
The hospital gave Meissner ultrasound pictures of his unborn twins, and a memory box forever linking them to Becca.
“This means a lot that they care, because this hits pretty hard,” Meissner said.
It’s a loss he hopes will prevent another family from experiencing the same pain he will forever feel.
“I wonder what would have changed if I knew being pregnant made you more susceptible to every disease and virus out there,” he said. “One of the things that made me smile most about Becca was knowing that we were going to grow old together. And I was looking so forward to being old with her.”
The Health Department recommends everyone get vaccinated. That’s especially important for people in high-risk categories, like pregnant women, people over 65, those with underlying health conditions, along with infants and kids.
Click here for a link to Becca’s Caring Bridge site to learn more about her.