UNC Student Dies From H1N1 Virus

A Carolina freshman from Rhode Island died Wednesday at UNC Hospitals from complications of the H1N1 virus. Lillian Chason had been in critical condition, on life support, since about a week before Thanksgiving, according to Facebook posts by her father.

“I’m sorry to have to tell everyone that Lillian died this afternoon at 5:20 PM,” Eric Chason wrote on Wednesday. “As you all know, she put up an incredible fight and if there was anyway she could have overcome this disease, she would have.”

Chason had posted updates on his daughter’s condition almost daily throughout her hospitalization, and she had a huge following – more than 7,000 people had joined the Facebook group “Prayers for Lillian.”

UNC students helped organize a blood drive to help meet the demands of Chason’s life support system, and within three hours on Tuesday every appointment was filled. The overflow was channeled to UNC’s regular winter blood drive, which happened to be going on the same day.

Before falling ill, Chason had auditioned for and won the lead role in A New Dress for Mona, a production of the dramatic art department’s undergraduate theater which is scheduled to open Jan. 29.

The Facebook posts chronicle in detail her family’s and friends’ ups and downs during her illness.

On Dec. 7 her father wrote that her heart had stopped after a circuit change in the life support machinery, but that she was revived with CPR. Previously, he’d written that they played Christmas music for her and hoped to have her home for the holidays.

“We want to say thanks again to the wonderful people at the UNC hospital who have been and remain incredibly supportive,” he wrote Wednesday. “And thank you all for all your prayers and kind thoughts – it was an incredible comfort during this long difficult journey.”

The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that as of Tuesday, 76 people in North Carolina had died from H1N1 and other types of influenza.

For the last two weeks the University has offered the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines to anyone on campus, following a period in which the H1N1 vaccine wasn’t available here.

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