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'She's a Fighter Through and Through': Community Rallying For King Woman With Heart Complications From Type A Flu

Family members say Janna Kiger, 24, contracted Type A Flu that attacked her heart, putting her in the hospital for almost two weeks.

KING, N.C. — A King woman has been hospitalized after suffering heart complications stemming from the flu.

Family members say Janna Kiger, 24, contracted the flu and the virus attacked her heart in early March.  She first went to Forsyth Medical Center before she was transferred to Duke Medical Center.

"They did have to do open heart surgery last Saturday," explains Donald Davis.  "In order to save her life."

Davis is Janna's hometown pastor from the Capella Church of Christ in King.  He's known Janna's family since before she was born.

"She’s got a tremendous heart for other people," he says. "She’s always willing to help, has a huge smile that lights up a room, beautiful blue eyes.  Everybody just enjoys being around Janna."

But the past few weeks have been rough for Janna and her family, who have been relying on faith.

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"The doctor told her she’s one in a million. We already knew that because we’ve known her all of her life," Davis says.  "But if a million people get the flu, one person ends up in this condition."

We don't have records to show exactly what Janna has, but her family says the problem stemmed from Type A flu.  At this point, Janna's undergone multiple surgeries - each one met with prayer after prayer.  There is a group on Facebook dedicated to daily prayers for Janna and her loved ones.

"Prayers have been tremendous to the point that the surgeon came out the other day and told her mom 'The prayers are working, you need to keep that going.'"

Her local church, Capella Church of Christ, has been active in rallying the community for Janna.

This past weekend, there was service for Janna at Poplar Springs Church of Christ, which is also in King.

Donations can be made here:
Capella Church of Christ
c/o Janna Kiger (please note on the check)
1187 Flat Shoals Rd
King, North Carolina 27021 

A medical expert at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center was able to talk to us more about complications with Type A Flu.  He's not involved in Janna's care or treatment, but says he's heard of this sort of thing happening before.

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"Mortality is very high on those patients where the heart is not working," explains Dr. David Zhao, Chief of Cardiovascular Medicine and Executive Director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

Dr. Zhao explains it sounds like this sort of heart complication is a type of viral cardiomyopathy, which says can lead to the heart not pumping blood to the rest of the body.  He adds, other viruses can cause the same complication, not just the flu.

He says there's not much that can be done in terms of preventing this particular complication once a person contracts the virus, but he advises people to wash their hands and continue getting flu shots to reduce the chances of contracting the flu.