Local Woman Loses 3 Limbs After Flu Complications


by Morgan Fogarty
Bio | Email | Follow: @morganfogarty

MATTHEWS, N.C. - Thirty-eight-year-old Kristan Seaford is adjusting physically and emotionally to being a triple amputee.  She says, "Believe it or not, it all began with my getting the flu."  

Seaford was a woman always on the go: an avid runner, a group fitness instructor at the Siskey Y, a wife, and a mom of five. 

Last fall, she got her flu vaccine, but one night, felt the tell-tale symptoms coming on.  Within 24 hours, the healthy Matthews resident was in the hospital.  Her flu had turned into pneumonia.  Her pneumonia led to sepsis.  Seaford says, "The doctors and nurses told my husband a number of times to say good bye." 
But Seaford was determined, disciplined, and resilient, and she battled back.  Medication pumped blood from her extremities to her failing organs, saving the organs, but sacrificing the limbs.  In January, doctors removed both of her hands, one of her feet and part of her other foot. 
WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty asked, "How does flu turn into sepsis, 95 days in the hospital, the loss of limbs?" Seaford replied, "In a seemingly healthy person that got their flu shot. Right? It's crazy." 
Seaford was tested for all types of disorders. The tests came back negative.  She says, "There's not really an explanation." 
Most people recover from the flu in less than two weeks, but the Centers for Disease Control does list complications that can include pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus and ear infections.  
Seaford says the hardest part is the impact her long hospitalization had on her youngest child, now only 18 months old.  She says, "I was gone [approximately] 100 days. She doesn't remember me. She doesn't know me as mommy and even now, I can't get her a cup of milk.  So why would she come to me when she wants milk? She knows I can't get it for her." 
Seaford is still learning to use her new prosthetics, which will need to be replaced every few years. She prefers the title "bionic" to "disabled."  She says, "It is truly a miracle that I'm here." 
Seaford says she couldn't have recovered without the help of her family, friends and community. And you can help, too. There's a 5-k fundraiser May 31st in Matthews to help raise money for her family's expenses.  Go to http://seekristanrun.racesonline.com/ or http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kristanseaford for more information. 
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