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Four Year Old Left Blind After She Caught A Severe Case Of The Flu—Her Parents Have A Message: Get Your Child Vaccinated

A 4-year-old Iowa girl was blinded and nearly died after catching the flu, according to a report—and her parents said doctors don’t know if she will ever see again. Jade DeLucia, who didn’t receive a flu shot this season, got sick a few days before Christmas and spent nearly two weeks in the intensive care unit at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Jade DeLucia’s mother took her to the hospital on Christmas Eve when her fever became dangerously high.

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“I looked down at her and her eyes were in the back of her head,” Jade’s mom Amanda Phillips told NBC News. The four-year-old spent more than two weeks in the hospital, her mom said, and developed a disease called encephalopathy, a swelling of the brain that caused her to lose her vision.

This encephalopathy complication is not just relatively rare, it’s very, very rare; .21 per million is about 1 in 5 million.

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Doctors told Phillips they won’t know if her daughter’s vision loss is permanent for six months. “She is lucky to be alive,” one of her doctors, Theresa Czech, told CNN last week. “She’s a little fighter. And I think she’s super lucky.”

The parents rushed Jade to the hospital — where she began to have a seizure, they told the New York Post.

Amanda Phillips facebook.com

Jade began to feel ill Dec. 19. Her symptoms progressed until the morning of Christmas Eve, when her dad Stephen DeLucia went to check on her and found her in bed unresponsive, with her body burning hot, the outlet reported. “I was like, ‘We have to go. We have to go to the emergency room. This isn’t right. Something’s not right with her,” mom Amanda Phillips recalled.

On Christmas Day, they found out Jade was suffering from encephalopathy.

Amanda Phillips facebook.com

“They said she had significant brain damage. They said our child might not ever wake up, and if she did, she might not ever be the same,” Phillips said. Czech, a pediatric neurologist, diagnosed Jade with acute necrotizing encephalopathy, or ANE, a type of encephalopathy usually caused by a viral infection. She prescribed steroids to help with the swelling in her brain.

Eventually, on Jan. 1, Jade woke up and began to get gradually better over the next few days.

Amanda Phillips facebook.com

But then, Phillips noticed that Jade wouldn’t look at her favorite stuffed animal, a white unicorn, even when it was in front of her face. “[The flu] affected the part of her brain that perceives sight, and we don’t know if she’s going to get her vision back,” said Czech.

Her parents have a message: Get your child vaccinated.

Amanda Phillips facebook.com

Phillips said she got her daughter vaccinated last March, and hoped that would work for the current season, but doctors say it’s crucial to get the vaccine in the fall before each season. “If I can stop one child from getting sick, that’s what I want to do,” said Amanda Phillips. “It’s terrible to see your child suffer like this.”

Every year, dozens of children die from the flu, and most of them had not received a flu shot, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Amanda Phillips facebook.com

Thousands more children are hospitalized. Many of those who becomes seriously ill or died were perfectly healthy before they contracted the flu. Jade is one of them.

This season’s flu strains are hitting children particularly hard, the Center for Disease Control said Friday.

https://twitter.com/CDCFlu/status/1215689262332551175?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1215689262332551175&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nbcnews.com%2Fhealth%2Fcold-and-flu%2Fseason-s-2-prominent-flu-strains-hitting-kids-young-particularly-n1113446

Two different flu strains are widespread, and there are twice as many pediatric flu deaths so far this year than at the same time last year, the CDC said.

The agency estimates that at least 9.7 million people have had the flu this season, with 87,000 hospitalizations and 4,800 deaths reported so far.

https://twitter.com/CDCFlu/status/1216751219215097858

Phillips hopes Jade’s story gets parents to take the flu seriously. “You do what’s best for your children,” she said. “You know your children.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Jade’s medical costs.

Amanda Phillips facebook.com

As for little Jade, she’s now at home recovering with her family at her side. On January 9 Phillips posted: ‘We are home. Words I didn’t think I’d get to post for weeks to come. But, here she is. My sweet baby girl…My brave girl who cannot see but is so loved by so many.’

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