Mother Struggles To Pay Funeral Expenses Of Tulsa Teen Who Died From Flu

Sunday, October 4th 2009, 5:26 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Grief counselors are at East Central High School Monday to help students cope with the loss of LaTowyn Gaston, a sophomore who passed away last week from influenza A.

Further laboratory tests will be needed to confirm if the influenza A strain was H1N1 flu, according to the Tulsa Health Department.

10/02/2009  Related Story: East Central High School Student Dies From Influenza

LaTowyn's mother, Dwana Gaston, lost her son the day after his 16th birthday and is trying to figure out how she'll pay for his funeral.

Dwana Gaston says her son was her inspiration.

"He should just be remembered as my loving son and my guardian angel," said Dwana Gaston, LaTowyn's mother.

LaTowyn Gaston started feeling nauseous and congested on Tuesday. He died Thursday night.

"He was ok and then he wasn't. And it kinda just happened. In a matter of three days, and he was gone," said Dwana Gaston.

LaTowyn was a sophomore at East Central High School in Tulsa.

Dwana says her son had no medical problems. On Wednesday morning, the day of his 16th birthday, he was vomiting and had diarrhea. Dwana took him to a hospital, but his body had already started shutting down.

"All his body functions started shutting down one by one. First his kidneys, then his heart, then his breathing," said Dwana Gaston.

Dwana says she hopes her son's death will make other mothers aware of how dangerous the flu can be.

"In the beginning of the week, he was healthy. Fine, vibrant, running around, being himself; and by Friday, he wasn't living anymore," said Dwana Gaston.

Gaston says she's overwhelmed with the cost of the funeral. She has been out of work for the last six months because of the economy.

"The biggest struggle is I'm not working right now, I'm unemployed. So the money that I do have still has to pay the bills. And I had no idea, no idea, that I would need to get money for this huge expense," said Dwana Gaston.

And after losing her son so suddenly, Dwana says her wish as a mother is to give him the arrangements he deserves.

A memorial fund for LaTowyn Gaston has been set up. Donations are being accepted at any Bank of Oklahoma branch to Memorial Fund for LaTowyn Gaston.

Donations may also be made directly to the funeral home:
Keith Biglow
1414 North Norfolk
Tulsa, OK 74106

The Tulsa County Health Department will get its first shipment of the H1N1 vaccine within the next week. The first 3,400 doses will go to health care workers and school kids.

10/02/2009  Related Story: H1N1 Vaccine Beginning To Arrive In Tulsa