'Fit and healthy' former bouncer, 44, dies of swine flu

The fiancee of a South Yorkshire man who died after contracting swine flu has shared her shock at how quickly the "fit and healthy" former bouncer succumbed to the virus.

Dean Brown from East Herringthorpe, Rotherham, died last Wednesday - six days after being taken into Rotherham Hospital. He is one of four people from the borough to have died with swine flu recently.

The 44-year-old's fiancee Sandra Kelsall, who received an eternity ring from the 'gentle giant' on Boxing Day, said he suffered from no underlying health complaints. "He was a fit man," she added.

Professor Walid Al-Wali, medical director at Rotherham Hospital, agreed and said: "He was quite healthy and did sport and gym work.

"Unfortunately, he died despite aggressive treatment and was confirmed to have swine flu."

The other deaths in the area include a 16-year-old who died at home and two 52-year-olds who died in hospital. They all had other health problems, but swine flu was a "contributory factor" in their deaths.

Sandra said Dean started to feel unwell on December 30 - and had to telephone her at work when his condition got so bad.

"He was just coughing and coughing and then he phoned me and said, 'I need you to come home'," she said. "He could hardly stand up and we got him in a car to hospital.

"I left him that night and he put his arms round me and said he loved me and he'd see me tomorrow. He just kept saying he wanted to get home to me and the dog."

She said he had not been vaccinated against the virus because he was not in an 'at-risk' group.

But Sandra added she believed everyone should receive the jab to ensure they were protected.

"I think everybody should qualify for the vaccine," she said. "I just want everybody to be aware. Everybody should have it. No more deaths."

Paying tribute to the man she had been planning to marry in Egypt she added: "I just loved him to bits from the day I met him," she said. "He was just a big gentle giant. He was an absolutely wonderful man."

Health bosses in the region have admitted demand for the flu vaccine has increased in recent weeks, with stocks now starting to run low at many GP surgeries and the H1N1 swine flu vaccine set to be used if supplies run out.

Dr Paul Redgrave, deputy director of public health at NHS Sheffield, said: "The best advice for patients who are seeking the vaccine is to speak to their GP practice to determine if they are in the 'at risk' group. If they are they will be put on a list to receive a vaccination when more supplies become available."


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