OUTBREAK: These heartbreaking crowdfunding campaigns show how brutal Australia's flu epidemic has been

Influenza has crippled the eastern states of Australia this year, killing adults and children alike and putting thousands into hospital.

It has even taken down people who have had the seasonal vaccination.

Now there are crowdfunding campaigns seeking to raise money for everyday Australian families devastated by the virus. Some victims are in comas, while others have had their bodies ravaged by a disease that many incorrectly consider harmless.

The World Health Organisation estimates that worldwide, annual epidemics are estimated to result in about 3 to 5 million cases of severe illness, and about 250,000 to 500,000 deaths.

Here are four cases currently raising money on the GoFundMe platform:

GoFundMe campaign picture for flu victim Joel (right). (supplied)

2-year-old will lose his toes and fingertips

Location: Chittering, WA
Goal: $15,000
Raised: $6,005 (as of September 27, 2017)
Duration: 10 days (as of September 27, 2017)

Young Joel went from a fever to a battle for his life within just 36 hours. The 2-year-old went into septic shock, a dangerous state of low blood pressure in reaction to an infection, after contracting Strep A and suffering multiple organ failure.

While he is now on the way to recovery, his hands and feet have suffered “irreversible damage” from the illness and the medication that kept him alive. Joel will likely lose his toes, fingertips and potentially more.

Here’s Joel’s GoFundMe page.

Boy was put into an induced coma

Location: Burpengary, QLD
Goal: $7,000
Raised: $747 (as of September 27, 2017)
Duration: 6 days (as of September 27, 2017)

GoFundMe campaign picture for flu victim Caleb. (supplied)

Caleb’s parents took him six times to various doctors and emergency rooms before he was hospitalised. He was diagnosed with double pneumonia, sepsis, Influenza B and Staph Aureus – a mixture severe enough for medical staff to put him into an induced coma and warn his parents to expect the worst.

Caleb has now completed 17 days in intensive care and 6 more weeks in hospital, with a crowdfunding campaign started to raise money for his long rehabilitation.

Here’s Caleb’s GoFundMe page.

GoFundMe campaign picture for flu victim Nathan. (supplied)

Teenager on life support with collapsed lungs and failed kidneys

Location: Currumbin, QLD
Goal: $10,000
Raised: $6,151 (as of September 27, 2017)
Duration: 6 days (as of September 27, 2017)

Nathan has been in intensive care at John Hunter Hospital since August 29 after he contracted influenza type A. At the time of hospitalisation, he also had acute pneumonia and staph infection in both lungs and his heart.

The 19-year-old is now on life support with collapsed lungs and failed kidneys. If and when Nathan comes out of the coma, he’ll require “a long recovery process” consisting of many months of rehabilitation.

Here’s Nathan’s GoFundMe page.

Man needs to learn to walk again

Location: Brisbane, QLD
Goal: $5,000
Raised: $1,590 (as of September 27, 2017)
Duration: 14 days (as of September 27, 2017)

GoFundMe campaign picture for flu victim Tom (front, with glasses). (supplied)

Tom was admitted to hospital with influenza type A and pneumonia on July 31, and the next day he was put into an induced coma while he clung to life. Despite little chance of success, doctors decided to try extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) – a way of keeping alive patients who have hearts and lungs no longer capable of supporting life.

Tom woke from his coma on August 23 and on September 7 he exited from intensive care. Coming out of long coma will mean Tom will require months of rehabilitation, including physiotherapy to learn to stand and walk again.

Here’s Tom’s GoFundMe page.

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