Teen's parents raise awareness of flu after son's death

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Doctors say now is the time to get your flu shot to protect yourself, and Raymond Plotkin's parents are hoping you'll endure one little pinch - especially after hearing their heartache.

No bereaved parent ever wants their child to be forgotten -- and the pain never really goes away.

Raymond's mother, Elaine Plotkin said, "Because I'm looking at you and smiling and having a nice conversation doesn't mean that I'm not grieving inside. You just never get over losing a son."

Ronnie and Elaine Plotkin's southwest Houston home is decorated with everything about their son. Raymond was 18 years old when he had just started his freshman year at the University of New Mexico in 2009 when he suddenly came down with the H1N1 flu.

Elaine Plotkin said, "Raymond had the best care that he could have had but the flu was no match for the science. Basically the flu killed his heart, his lungs and his brain all within five days. It went that fast."

Raymond had no underlying conditions and had gotten a flu shot, but because Raymond got sick during the H1N1 pandemic, the shot he received didn't protect him from that strain.

In his honor, the University of New Mexico now has a Take One for Raymond flu shot clinic in his honor - and his parents volunteer there whenever they can. They hope every parent - and all young adults -- will consider getting the flu shot.

Ronnie Plotkin said, "We've received a couple 'thank yous' from people who say because of Raymond telling their children their story that they got a flu shot and we might have saved their child's life.

Obviously, you need to talk to your doctor before getting any shot. You can get the vaccine through your employer, local pharmacies or your primary care physician.

The Plotkins are also part of the Compassionate Friends of the Greater Houston Area, which is hosting a "day of inspiration" for bereaved parents, grandparents and siblings. It's happening Saturday, Oct. 22 from 9 am to 4:30 pm at Westbury United Methodist Church. It's located at 5200 Willowbend in Houston. For more information email dsrambis@gmail.com.
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