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Two-year-old mother of 20 years dies a day after being diagnosed with the flu

The family of a 20-year-old mother who died just a day after being diagnosed with the flu says she was "always healthy" before becoming ill on Thanksgiving weekend.

Alani "Joie" Murrieta and many of her family members experienced cold symptoms after celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday together in Phoenix, Arizona. While everyone was finally recovering, Murrieta got worse, and only a few days later, she would succumb to her illness, leaving behind her two children: AJ, 2 years old. and Jr. of 6 months

"He was a beautiful person, he cared for and loved and he was always there for the others", says to PEOPLE Vanessa Flores-Aguirre, friend of Murrieta. "She was just a good person."

While at her warehouse job on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, Murrieta was sent home because of her symptoms, and then her sister took her to an urgent care clinic the next day. Then they diagnosed the flu and gave him medication.

Doctors at the clinic gave Murrieta a treatment called Tamiflu, an antiviral drug. Murrieta returned home to rest, but his health continued to deteriorate. The next morning, after spending most of the night coughing, I had trouble breathing and spitting a small amount of blood. Her family took her to Banner Star Medical Center, where doctors performed tests and discovered that her oxygen levels were dangerously low, and a scan revealed that Murrieta had developed pneumonia, an infection of the lungs.

Doctors quickly administered an intravenous antibiotic dose, but Murrieta fainted as fluid accumulated in his lungs. While the staff tried to transport her to the ICU, Murrieta's heart stopped, but the doctors were able to revive her. A short time later, her heart stopped for the second time as the staff tried to put her on a respirator.

"We thought they would give her antibiotics, she would be fine and we would tell her how crazy she is, everything was later, my sister and I thought that she would recover and improve," Stephanie Gonzales, Murrieta's aunt, tells PEOPLE . "While trying to resuscitate her for the second time, we told her to be strong, to fight, to fight for the children and to come back with us."

After the doctors tried to revive her without success, the family was informed there was nothing else they could do, and Murrieta died at 3:25 p.m. m. on November 28, only one day after being diagnosed with the flu.

"It was really hard for me, I talked to her sister and she told me it was true, that she was gone," says Flores-Aguirre. "I broke, it felt so unreal, I can not describe how close we were, we used to be together every day."

Gonzales says the family is still recovering from the shock of losing his beloved Murrieta, and that everything feels "unreal."

"For me, every day is more difficult, it will never come back to my door or call me aunt," she says through tears. "I'll never have that again and it breaks my heart."

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that influenza has caused between nine and 35 million illnesses each year in the United States. UU Since 2010, about 7,000 cases of influenza have been confirmed in the country so far for the season, which is more than double that of 2016. While it is difficult to know how many people have died from the disease, the CDC estimates that the deaths associated with influenza ranged from a minimum of 12,000 from 2011 to 2012 to a maximum of 56,000 in 2012 to 2013. Professor Robert Lamb, a biochemist at Northwestern University who studies the influenza virus, says it's rare for someone so young die because of the disease.


Alani "Joie" Murrieta as a child

Stephanie Gonzales

"Die of influence at 20 is very unusual," says Professor Lamb, who has no connection to the case, to PEOPLE. of Murrieta. "When it comes to a 70-year-old man, they probably had some underlying secondary condition, but for a 20-year-old boy, it's very unusual."

Lamb emphasizes the importance of getting vaccinated against the flu.

"The best advice you can give anyone is to tell them to get vaccinated," he says.

The family has established a GoFundMe page to help pay for burial expenses. More donations will be donated to create a fund for Murrieta's two small children.

"Alani was a great mother, daughter, sister, niece and friend," says Gonzales, adding that Murrieta worked hard and would do anything for her. children. "She was loud, energetic and always ready for an adventure, we are devastated that she is gone, but we are amazed by the number of people who loved her as much as we do"

Flores-Aguirre says she will always remember kindness of your best friend.

"Joie was a beautiful person and had a beautiful soul," she says. "She was the kind of person that if someone else needed help, she would be the person to help and be there for others"

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