HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — “Ronan actually came on his own terms, 10 days early, but he was considered full term,” Kat DeLancy said of her normal, healthy pregnancy and delivery in late May.
10 days early, then ten days at home. That’s around the time DeLancy noticed her little son was acting strangely.
“He was very angry, crying a lot,” she said. “He had redness on his chest, and a couple days prior, had redness on his face.”
A pediatrician found nothing wrong, but soon after, DeLancy brought Ronan to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital where his condition rapidly deteriorated.
“He started having seizures, the seizures got harder and harder to control,” she said.
At first, she said they got few answers for several days. Then, an infectious disease specialist got involved and it was determined the baby had Parechovirus.
“They came in and broke our hearts and told us the damage got so bad that it created holes in his brain,” DeLancy said, struggling to hold back tears.
Little Ronan died when he was just 34 days old, leaving his parents in a nightmare.
“It makes no sense to me because we were so incredibly cautious about Covid and minimizing any exposure to anything,” DeLancy said.
“Parechovirus is a virus that circulates seasonally typically in summer and early fall,” Dr. Thomas Murray of Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital said, who can’t discuss Ronan specifically due to patient confidentiality.
But, he said cases of Parechovirus have recently popped up in Connecticut.
“The range of symptoms and how sick you get from it are highly variable from mild disease to severe disease which can sometimes happen with younger babies,” Murray explained. The virus can also cause developmental disabilities in babies.
He advised parents to seek medical attention immediately if a newborn develops a fever and to always keep their hands clean before and after caring for a baby.
Also, since the virus can be mild in toddlers and adults, the following advice is crucial:
“It’s important in the first months of life to keep your baby away from anyone who is sick and that’s also true for not only this virus but other viruses that can make babies very sick,” Murray advised.
“We read him Charlotte’s Web,” Kat DeLancy said, sitting next to her husband, Mitch.
They cherish the time they had with their son.
“They put him in a full-size bed so I could lay with him and be able to sing and read and hold his hand a little bit easier,” DeLancy said through tears.
They’re trying to explain this tragedy to their daughter.
“We just try not to cry in front of her but we’ve been doing a lot of that,” Mitch DeLancy said.
They’re speaking out with passion, to raise awareness, and to hopefully inspire change in the form of a test, treatment, or vaccine.
They do this as they continue to grieve their Ronan.
“It’s devastating, we are absolutely heartbroken and want no one else to ever have to go through this,” DeLancy said. “If down the line, something can change, then he made a big impact.”
Kat DeLancy connected with other parents in a Parechovirus Facebook group and she’s launching a website called Research for Ronan to continue raising awareness.