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Newton Mother Dies from Flu-Related Illness

NEWTON, Iowa  --  A young wife and mother has died due to complications of the flu.

Family members say 34-year-old Nikki Burtlow passed away on Friday at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. Burtlow's oldest sister, Amanda Reavis, says Nikki put off going to the doctor for several days despite feeling ill. She eventually went, but it was already too late.

"They ended up treating her for a chest cold and it turned out to be much worse than what that was," Reavis says.

Family members say shortly thereafter, Burtlow experienced difficulties breathing and walking, and began to look jaundiced.  On Thursday, Burtlow visited the emergency room at the Skiff Medical Center in Newton, but was rushed to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines. Her family says doctors told them the woman was also battling pneumonia and had gone into organ failure. Burtlow died less than 24 hours later.

"We didn't say goodbye, we didn't get a chance to say goodbye, we were just talking to her the night before," Reavis says.

Reavis is now urging everyone who feels sick to put their health first and visit the doctor right away.

Burtlow had not gotten a flu shot this year and did not have health or life insurance. A visitation is scheduled for Thursday at the Wallace Family Funeral Home in Newton from 10 a.m. until noon. To help the family with funeral and medical expenses, click here.