After A Four-Year-Old Girl Was Blinded By The Flu, Her Mother Shared This Desperate Warning

Image: Facebook/Amanda Phillips

With Christmas approaching in 2019, young Jade DeLucia was struck down by a bout of flu. After a short period, her condition then took a terrifying turn and the virus caused the girl to lose her sight. Given the severity of the situation, her mom Amanda Phillips issued a stern warning to other parents out there in January 2020.

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For many of us, Christmas is arguably the best time of the year, as we join our families to celebrate the holidays. And for many children, that excitement over the festive period is magnified. In Jade DeLucia’s case, though, the build-up to the big day in 2019 was derailed after she contracted the flu.

Image: Facebook/Amanda Phillips

To begin with, Jade informed her mother that she felt under the weather. Soon, she was showing signs of a fever. At that point, Phillips gave the youngster some medication, which appeared to keep things under control. In fact, her condition looked to be improving as she spent time with her older sibling.

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But that all changed a few days later. Due to Jade’s ailing condition, she was rushed to the hospital ahead of Christmas Day, leaving her family in a horrible position. From there, it was soon discovered that Phillips’ daughter had been blinded by the flu, leading the mom to share an important warning.

Image: Facebook/Amanda Phillips

Dealing with a virus can be somewhat unpleasant, especially for those in their youth. Whether it’s the chicken pox or a bout of flu, these conditions can take a lot out of a child. Yet knowing how difficult illness can be for kids couldn’t possibly have prepared Phillips for what happened to her daughter.

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Residents of Waterloo, Iowa, Phillips and her partner Stephen DeLucia are the proud parents of two little girls. Prior to Jade’s birth, the couple welcomed their first daughter into the world, who they named Catalina. As for work, the mom and dad both have jobs to support their young family.

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Indeed, DeLucia has a position at Tyson Foods, while Phillips works at Dollar General, taking on the role of assistant manager. Together, they were preparing themselves for the festive season alongside their two daughters in December 2019. But like we mentioned earlier, those plans were disrupted in a major way.

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The flu can be an incredibly nasty illness, leaving sufferers in a bad state. And when it comes to some kids, the infection has the potential to develop into something far more problematic. With that in mind, the John Hopkins Medicine website shared some additional information about the troublesome medical issue.

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The website post read, “Influenza (flu) is a very contagious viral infection that affects the air passages of the lungs. It causes a high fever, body aches, a cough, and other symptoms. It is one of the most severe and common viral illnesses of the winter season. Most children are ill with the flu for less than a week.”

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At that stage, the medical website then touched upon the other problems that youngsters can face when they contract the flu. The post continued, “But some children have a more serious illness and may need to be treated in the hospital. The flu may also lead to lung infection (pneumonia) or death.”

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In Jade’s case, her symptoms first came to light on December 19, 2019. With just six days left until Christmas, she flagged up her ailing condition to Phillips, who tried to make her feel better. Looking back on that period, the mom gave some insight into what she did next with CNN in January 2020.

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Phillips told the television channel, “[Jade would] say, ‘Mom, I don’t feel good,’ and we’d cuddle on the couch.” After that, the four-year-old started to display signs of a “low-grade” fever, which prompted her mother to act. The Waterloo resident subsequently got hold of some medication to help ease the problem.

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That decision appeared to pay off over the next few days, as Jade responded positively to the medication. Thanks to her improving condition, she was also able to spend more time with Catalina in the build-up to Christmas. So, given how things were at that point, Phillips believed there was nothing else to worry about.

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“[Jade] was running around, having fun, eating normally, asking for snacks,” Phillips recalled. “It was just – it’s a little bug, she’ll get over it. There wasn’t any sign that would’ve told me that something was seriously wrong with her.” On that note, her world was turned upside down on the morning of Christmas Eve.

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Just a few hours before that, father DeLucia was in charge of the children at home. At the time, she was seeing out a shift at Dollar General. While she was away, the dad put Jade to bed ahead of a busy morning, as their clan prepared to visit some relatives.

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From there, Phillips and DeLucia got everything together on Christmas Eve, but they realized that their youngest daughter wasn’t ready. In fact, Jade was still in her bed, which prompted her dad to wake her up. However, as he tried to communicate with his daughter, she showed no signs of responding.

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Alongside that, Jade’s body temperature was through the roof as well, leaving Phillips in a state of utter panic. “I yelled at [DeLucia],” she revealed to CNN. “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.’”

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As a result of Jade’s worrying condition, her parents quickly transported her to the Covenant Medical Center. Unfortunately, that didn’t signal the end of the drama, as the four-year-old’s body began to convulse at the facility. Her eyes also rolled, which indicated that she had been suffering from a seizure.

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After getting things under control, the hospital staff admitted that Jade required treatment at another facility. They planned to take the youngster to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, some 80 miles from Waterloo. And due to the severity of the situation, they couldn’t just drive there via an emergency vehicle.

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Instead, Jade was loaded into a helicopter for her trip to the hospital, but Phillips and DeLucia couldn’t join her. “I didn’t think I was going to see her again at that point,” the mom said. “I really didn’t. Just from looking at her, I really honestly didn’t think I was going to see her.”

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Once Jade arrived at the facility in Iowa, the physicians there made a diagnosis. As it turned out, she was struggling with influenza B, one of the three main variations of the flu. Off the back of that discovery, Phillips’ daughter was then transferred to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.

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If you’re curious about the different types of flu, the John Hopkins Medicine website provided a break down of influenzas A and B. The post read, “These two types of viruses cause widespread illness (epidemics) almost every winter. They often lead to more people needing to go to the hospital, and more people dying from the flu.”

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The medical post added, “Public health officials focus on stopping the spread of types A and B. One of the reasons the flu remains a problem is because the viruses change (mutate) often. This means that people are exposed to new types of the viruses each year.” Keeping that in mind, Jade’s flu triggered a serious issue.

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For you see, after undergoing an MRI scan, the doctors realized that Jade had encephalopathy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight that particular condition as a “complication” of the flu virus which attacks the brain. Phillips and DeLucia eventually saw the images from the scan for themselves on Christmas Day at the hospital.

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Reflecting on that moment, Phillips painted a rather vivid picture when describing the scan results. She told CNN, “[Jade’s brain was] lit up like a Christmas tree. [The doctors] 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.”

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At that point, Jade’s family were forced to play the waiting game, as she was still unconscious. In the meantime, a doctor named Theresa Czech started to watch over the youngster. Furthermore, she also narrowed down the problem in her brain following a bit of research on New Year’s Eve.

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According to Dr. Czech, Jade was dealing with acute necrotizing encephalopathy – better known as ANE. This condition is incredibly rare, so the physician couldn’t find extensive information on it at first. In the end, she uncovered a report that focused on four affected kids. Only one of these survived the ailment.

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Despite that bleak outlook, though, Czech didn’t give up on Jade, as she looked to bring down the brain swelling. So, to do that, the doctor administered a round of steroids. Then, over a week on from that awful Christmas Eve, an important breakthrough was made at the medical facility.

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On New Year’s Day, Jade finally stirred from her unconscious state, much to the delight of her relatives. Unsurprisingly, Phillips was beside herself with joy when the long-awaited moment arrived. The mom informed CNN, “She’s got her eyes open. She’s looking around. We got a couple of hand squeezes! And then we got a smile!”

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However, while Jade showed some positive signs of recovery after waking up, another problem came to light. Phillips noted that her daughter wasn’t responding to visual stimuli, such as when she placed a toy before her eyes. An eye expert subsequently looked over the four-year-old, yet they couldn’t identify the issue.

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Following that examination, the doctors realized that the ANE was to blame. To give you a better idea of why the condition caused Jade to go blind, Czech offered an in-depth explanation. She sat down with Time magazine in January 2020 to discuss this particular case, and how encephalopathy actually works.

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Czech said, “[Encephalopathy] occurs basically because your immune system gets kind of revved up and it starts attacking your own cells. It’s in overdrive and when that happens it can not only hit its intended target – which is the flu virus – but it also hits other targets nonspecifically, including your brain. In Jade’s case, the part of the brain that perceived vision was effected.”

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In addition to that, Czech spoke about Jade’s condition with CNN as well in January 2020. She explained, “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.”

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Meanwhile, Phillips had a warning for other parents out there after Jade’s ordeal. As it turned out, the youngster hadn’t received a vaccination for the current flu season, which started back in September 2019. So given what happened to her daughter over Christmas, the mother offered up a strong message.

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Phillips told CNN, “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.” Those words were echoed by a doctor in Colorado, too.

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Although the flu season is set to conclude in May 2020, Dr. Bernadette Albanese claimed that it’s not too late to get a jab. In her opinion, it’s just as effective as it was back in September. Speaking with CBS News, Albanese said, “If you haven’t gotten a vaccination yet, there is still value in getting it now.”

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As for Jade, she took the next significant step on the road to recovery on January 9, 2020. At that stage, Phillips and DeLucia’s daughter arrived back home, albeit without her sight. During this period, the family were also receiving some welcome financial assistance via a GoFundMe page, which was put up in December 2019.

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The fundraising page was set up by a man named Brandon Weber, who lived in the same neighborhood as DeLucia and Phillips. Since then, more than $48,000 has been generated from over 1,300 separate donations on the website. The total is now nearing ever closer to the goal worth $50,000.

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But while the money continues to pour in, Weber shared some incredible news on January 26, 2020. Writing an update for the page, he revealed, “On Christmas Eve Jade fought for her life, slipping deep into a coma. 11 days later she awoke. Two days later she walked. Three days later she was released home, the only issue being she was blind.”

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Weber added, “[But] nine days later, Jade’s sight began to return. It took only 28 days. I sit here this early morning in awe. Not only did a miracle take place for Jade, but her journey brought thousands into the light. Her smile, her soft words, her courage and especially her sweet hugs are a healing force for us all.”

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