Woman Who Lost All 4 Limbs to the Flu Becomes “Advocate for the Future”

By: Lauren Fokas | Last updated: Jan 29, 2024

Most people assume that getting the flu simply means a few days in bed, but for one Ohio woman, it meant losing all four of her limbs. 

Kristin Fox’s story is certainly tragic, but she has chosen to use it to spread awareness and “advocate for the future.”

What Happened to Kristin Fox?

Kirstin Fox was working as a high-school principal and full-time mom to her two kids when, in March 2020, she started feeling a little under the weather. 

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Kristin Fox and her two children take a selfie on a plane

Source: Facebook

Two days later, she took herself to urgent care and, even though she got the flu vaccine just six months prior, she tested positive for the common virus.

Her Flu Test Was Taken Pre-COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm just days later, but at that time, the doctor at urgent care considered the flu nothing to worry about. 

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Sick woman sitting in bed blowing her nose surrounded by tissues

Source: Freepik

They gave her some Tamiflu and sent her home to rest. But the next day, Kristin could barely move; she told the media “[she] felt like [she] was dying.”

Her Friend May Have Saved Her Life

Fortunately, Kristin called her friend who works as a nurse and she came right over to take Kristin’s vitals.

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Nurse helping an elderly patient

Source: Freepik

When the nurse saw that Kristin’s oxygen levels and blood pressure were terrifyingly low, they immediately left for the closest hospital.

Within Minutes, Kristin Was Hooked Up to a Ventilator

Kristin told the media “Within 30 minutes, I was on a ventilator, and they said I probably wouldn’t make it.”

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Screen in a hospital with vital information while nurse stands in the background

Source: Freepik

The doctors told her family that she was experiencing organ failure due to a horrific case of bacterial pneumonia; her lung had already collapsed and her kidneys were dangerously close to failing.

Kristin Went into Septic Shock

Although the doctors didn’t notice at the time, Kristin was already in septic shock. By the next day, the doctors were sure she was on death’s doorstep and wouldn’t make it through the night.

Tired female doctor wearing a mask holds her temples

Source: Freepik

Miraculously, Kristin did survive, and on Thursday, exactly six days after she started feeling poorly, the doctors realized she was septic and put her into a medically induced coma. The plan was to try to save her vital organs, but in order to do so, they needed to make an incredibly difficult decision.

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Kristin’s Doctors Said Her Legs Had to Be Amputated

Although her doctors had told the Fox family that Kristin may lose her fingers or toes, they were completely shocked when the attending doctor announced that they planned to remove both her legs the very next day. 

Kristin Fox in her wheelchair with her two children and friend

Source: Facebook

The family wanted to wait, but the doctors reported that without immediate amputation, Kristin would almost certainly die.

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Even with the Amputation, Kristin Still Almost Didn’t Make It

While amputating her legs helped her organs focus on the rest of her body, it wasn’t enough to pull her out of danger. 

Kristin Fox with family and friends at a charity event

Source: Facebook

So two weeks later, they decided to amputate her arms as well. Kristin has since reported that she is very grateful they were able to save her elbows, but it was still an incredible loss. 

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Kristin Woke up with No Limbs

When Kristin was woken up out of her coma, her entire world had changed forever. Not only was the entire world shut down due to the pandemic, but she also found out that she lost all four of her limbs in the fight for her life.

Photo of the UPMC Montefiore Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility building

Source: UPMC.com

Kristin slowly but surely got better and stronger and was soon transferred to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Rehabilitation Institute to start physical therapy.

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Kristin Told the Press that Telling Her Kids about Her Amputation Was the Hardest Part

In a recent interview, Kristin told the press that: “They literally wrapped me like a mummy because I didn’t want my kids to see — I hadn’t told them yet about losing my arms and legs.”

Kristin Fox’s two children posing on the first day of school

Source: Facebook

The kids were only six and nine years old at the time, and Kristin felt that with COVID and her near-death experience, they simply couldn’t handle the extremely sad news.

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The Fox Family and Kristin’s Friends Stood Strong

Kristin’s healing journey was long and full of setbacks including another collapsed lung, but her friends and family were always there for her and each other.

Friends and family of Kristin Fox organize event to raise money for Kristen’s medical bills

Source: Facebook

They since have raised money for her extensive medical bills, helped take her kids to school and sporting events, and generally raised awareness in their community and around the country about sepsis, bacterial infections, and accessibility for those with disabilities.

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Kristin Is Using Her Story to Change the World

Kristin is already back at work, leading the next generation. She said, “I had a lot of young eyes watching me, and I knew there were so many kids who would learn so much from my reaction to this. It’s taught them about respecting differences and treating everyone fairly, regardless of their ability. And it’s taught them how they should overcome their own barriers and tough moments.”

Kristin Fox with three of her students

Source: Facebook

And her friends and family couldn’t be prouder of Kristin. One of her co-workers explained, “She exemplifies perseverance … Our students look up to her and realize that no matter how tough their situation is, that is not an excuse to not give it their all each and every day.”

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