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Iowa mother’s urgent warning after her 4-year-old daughter nearly died, lost vision when she contracted the flu

General Health

IOWA (ABC/WTNH) — A four-year-old girl in Iowa is recovering after a scary hospitalization to treat serious complications from the flu.

Amanda Phillips says her daughter, Jade – who did not get a flu shot this season – started showing signs of being sick a few days before Christmas.

“She was, you know, just a normal bug, the flu for a couple days. And all of a sudden, you know, five days later, she was unresponsive and it was the drop of a dime that she was sick.”

– Amanda Philips, Jade’s mother

When her parents found Jade unresponsive on Christmas Eve, they rushed her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with influenza B and placed on a ventilator.

Jade’s doctor told ABC News that an MRI showed abnormalities in her brain. She was diagnosed with acute necrotizing encephalopathy, an extremely rare disease usually preceded by a viral infection.

Dr. Alex Bassuk, Division Director of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Iowa, Stead Family Children’s Hospital, explains, “We think that what has happened in this case is there was an infection with influenza and then the body sort of overcompensates when it is fighting the infection and sometimes instead of fighting the infection it starts fighting itself, and in this case, it can fight the brain.”

Jade got so sick, Phillips said she didn’t think she was going to see her daughter again.

After nearly two weeks, Jade finally opened her eyes. But Phillips says she noticed something wasn’t right, saying, “She couldn’t focus. You would hand something or try to, you know, give her a toy and she wouldn’t grab it.”

Jade’s doctor says the inflammation in her brain is rare but that it affected the area that controls her vision. Her mom says she has lost her vision and is not sure she will ever get it back. Still, she and the doctors remain hopeful.

“Many of the children especially when it happens in younger children they can recover significantly and we definitely have hope in this case there will be significant recovery but there can be permanent outcome from this process.”

– Dr. Alex Bassuk, Division Director of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Iowa, Stead Family Children’s Hospital

Now back at home, Jade is making progress. But still has a long road ahead.

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