JUST two days after spending a night out with friends, Mackay teenager Mercedes King came down with the flu. Another 48 hours later, the spritely netballer was in a coma in the ICU, fighting for her life.
Parents Becky Seadon and Troy King remain by the 14-year-old's bedside as Mercedes remains in the Intensive Care Unit at the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital.
This year's flu season has been described as one of the worst in recent years, and in Mackay, the region has been hit with more than 200 cases in the past two weeks.
On Friday night, August 25, Mercedes was out spending time with friends. Two days later, her health deteriorated and she began suffering flu-like symptoms.
The following Tuesday morning, her father Troy raised the alarm after crossing paths with his daughter in the hallway.
Her breathing was shallow and it was then they called the ambulance and she was taken to Mackay Base Hospital.
Troy's cousin, Tennille Wise, said yesterday that doctors told the family had Mercedes gone back to bed, in just four hours she would have been "not with us anymore".
Mercedes' organs began shutting down faster than doctors could help her, so she was placed in an induced coma and later flown to Brisbane.
She is no longer in an induced coma, but rather heavily sedated by doctors as she attempts to fight off influenza B, pneumonia, sepsis and an unidentified bacterial infection.
On Tuesday, her condition took a slight step back - her temperature rose and so did her heart rate.
Doctors will also check on her lungs, as both collapsed from the pneumonia, as well as a kidney dialysis.
Despite that, Ms Wise said she is mostly breathing on her own, but through tubes.
Ms Wise said Mercedes' parents were doing as well as expected but were staying strong for their daughter.
Yesterday, while waiting in ICU, Mercedes opened her eyes for the second time since she has been in ICU, causing her mother to cry.
"It's been a tough day," Ms Wise said.
Looking at her cousin Troy as he sat beside his daughter's bedside, Ms Wise said "you could just see the pain in his eyes".
"It's helplessness that he can't help his daughter or take her pain away," she said.
At this stage it is too early to tell whether Mercedes will make a full recovery.
Ms Wise said there was definitely no promises, or no day or date when she might be able to wake up properly and have the respirator out.
In spite of it all, both Mercedes and her family are "fighting the good fight".
"They (her parents) are fighting alongside her, obviously she's got a whole army of family and friends praying and fighting this battle with her," Ms Wise said.
"I think she'll come out of this. I don't know how long, or how she's going to be, or if her kidneys are going to repair, but all we know is she has a big family and a lot of friends in her corner, so she's fighting the good fight."
Speaking on behalf of Mercedes' mum, Ms Wise issued a warning to the dangers of the flu.
"There was no sign of anything like this happening, she is a young, fit, healthy girl..." she said.
"It happened really quickly and they almost lost their daughter.
"If your child has the flu go and get it checked, because that's all Mercedes had on Monday."
Mercedes' aunt Renee Shannon has started a GoFundMe campaign to help the family with medical costs - already raising nearly $12,500.
"I am appealing to the community to help support my brother's family through a heartbreaking family crisis," Ms Shannon said.
"They have the weight of the world on their shoulders right now and I would like your help to lessen that load with some financial assistance."
Ms Shannon said when the Mackay Netball Association member was rushed to hospital, her parents were "absolutely unaware" of the nightmare that was about to unfold.
"As her health declined, her parents were told that Mercedes would have to be flown to Brisbane for treatment as she needed specialised care," she said. "Due to her fragile state, special equipment was needed to keep her alive. Her family had to then endure an agonising wait while doctors and equipment from Lady Cilento Children's Hospital were flown to Mackay."
Mercedes' aunty said with only one parent permitted on the flight with the critical teen, her dad Troy, sisters Georgia and Shelbee and brother Colby, had to stay behind.
"They frantically put whatever supplies they could into the family car and drove 12-13 hours to Brisbane to be with Mercedes," Ms Shannon said.
"Mercedes has been put on a kidney dialysis machine and may need further life-saving treatment such as, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. She remains in a critical condition and it is expected that she will be in the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital for an extended period of time."
She said Mercedes' parents and three siblings were "by her side around the clock, holding her hand".
"They are a devoted family who are extremely anxious about whether they can keep their family together in Brisbane during this crucial time," Ms Shannon said.