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4-Year-Old Girl Goes Blind After Contracting The Flu & Suffering 'Significant Brain Damage'

Jade little girl blind flu shot

Two Iowa parents are urging people to get the flu vaccine in the weeks since their 4-year-old daughter went blind after contracting the flu and nearly dying.

According to reports, Jade DeLucia (above) started feeling sick and running a fever a few days before Christmas. Her parents didn’t think much of it, as the child’s symptoms would improve with over-the-counter medicine.

Her mother Amanda Phillips told CNN:

“She was running around, having fun, eating normally, asking for snacks… There wasn’t any sign that would’ve told me that something was seriously wrong with her.”

But things took a scary turn on Christmas Eve, when Jade’s father Stephen DeLucia went to wake her up — only to find her unresponsive in bed with a high fever. While rushing her to the local hospital, the young girl started having a seizure; she was uncontrollably shaking with her eyes rolled to the back of her head.

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Jade was immediately ordered by doctors to be taken by helicopter to the children’s hospital at the University of Iowa — 80 miles away in Iowa City — while her parents traveled by car. Her mother recalled:

“I didn’t think I was going to see her again at that point. I really didn’t. Just from looking at her, I really honestly didn’t think I was going to see her.”

Jade was hospitalized for the next two weeks; one of which she was completely unresponsive. Eventually, doctors discovered the flu had reached her brain and diagnosed her with encephalopathy, a rare complication of the flu that can lead to brain damage and death.

Amanda explained:

“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.”

Thankfully, pediatric neurologist Dr. Theresa Czech came to the rescue: she started the child on steroids to reduce the swelling in her brain — and Jade woke up on January 1.

The child’s mother added:

“She’s got her eyes open. She’s looking around. We got a couple of hand squeezes! And then we got a smile!”

Unfortunately, something was different: Phillips quickly realized Jade wasn’t able to see.

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The doctor said the flu had affected her vision, and might even lead to other neurological issues. Czech told the outlet:

“It affected the part of her brain that perceives sight, and we don’t know if she’s going to get her vision back. In about three to six months from now we’ll know. Whatever recovery she has at six months, that’s likely all she’s going to get.”

Jade was released from the hospital on January 9, but the family’s situation remains dire. A GoFundMe page was set up by a neighbor to help with the family’s medical bills.

Meanwhile, Phillips isn’t about to let her daughter suffer from potential lifelong blindness in vain: she’s urging parents everywhere to get a flu shot for themselves and their children every season, noting:

“We want parents to know they should get a flu shot every season… If I can stop one child from getting sick, that’s what I want to do. It’s terrible to see your child suffer like this.”

Both Jade and her sister got a flu shot in March, so Phillips thought they were protected for the rest of the year. However, the vaccine changes each flu season.

This just breaks our hearts. Here’s to hoping little Jade gets her vision back.

[Image via GoFundMe]

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Jan 14, 2020 18:25pm PDT