First flu death in PMB

2009-08-24 00:00

THE H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, has claimed its first death in Pietermaritzburg.

Jessica Dunne (nee Oliver), who was from Winterton and worked at the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir School, was seven months pregnant when she was admitted to St Anne’s Hospital. She died on Saturday afternoon after a lengthy stay in hospital.

The hospital yesterday refused to confirm that Dunne’s death was linked to H1N1 flu, citing patient confidentiality.

The Witness has learnt that hospital staff who cared for Dunne are devastated. “They did everything possible to help her and we did not stop praying for her,” one staff member told The Witness.

The Witness understands that Dunne’s baby was delivered by Caesarean section on Thursday at 29 weeks. According to the source, the doctors were thinking about the baby’s health.

Hospital manager Louis Joubert confirmed that the baby was delivered on Thursday and is still in hospital, but declined to comment further.

The Witness has learnt that the baby is a boy named Josh.

Yesterday, condolences poured in from as far away as Australia on Dunne’s page on social networking site Facebook.

Dunne’s friends posted emotional messages for her family.

One friend described her as a star, an awesome friend and as having a “huge laugh”, which brought life to those around her.

Efforts by The Witness to contact her parents were unsuccessful, and her husband Shaun said he did not want to speak to the media.

However, posted on Dunne’s Facebook page under “Jessica Dunne Memorial and Prayer Group”, the family wrote: “This is to remember a beautiful daughter, wife, sister, mother and friend who passed away today (22/08/09). May she rest in peace with our Father above ..."

Facebook group swells to 450

A Facebook group set up in remembrance of Jessica Dunne had over 450 members by yesterday afternoon.

People from the close community of Estcourt where Jessica grew up sent their support as well as those from further afield.

Gia Bromfield wrote “Jess I can still see you at our house and I can still hear your laughter as if it was yesterday. Your precious little Josh will know how brave his mommy was. And now you and all the angels in heaven are watching him from up above. Rest in peace my dear friend. To Jess’s whole family we are praying for you through this very difficult time.”

Kagiso Zwane wrote “Jessica, I never forget your huge laugh, it brought the Drakie campus to life. You were an awesome friend, knowing you was privilege. I hope that Josh will go through life knowing what a star his mother was and the amount of people she touched. Love ALWAYS.”

Lianne van Coller wrote “To Michelle, Jeff and the Dunne family, our condolences on the tragic loss of a beautiful ballerina, daughter, sister wife mother and friend. She will be greatly missed. We dont know your pain right now, but know that you are in our prayers, especially little Josh. God has chosen another blossoming flower for his gorgeous garden. God Bless you all.”

Others registered their shock on their own Facebook walls.

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