IOWA CITY, IA -- A 4-year-old girl from Iowa is recovering from a life-threatening case of the flu that has left her blind, and doctors say it could be permanent.
The day before Christmas the happy, healthy girl named Jade DeLucia suddenly had to be airlifted by helicopter to the children's hospital at the University of Iowa as her parents watched terrified.
"I didn't think I was going to see her again. At that point, I really didn't," said Amanda Phillips, Jade’s mother.
Jade had a strain of the flu called Influenza B. It's spreading quickly across the country, which is highly unusual for this time of year.
Experts say the most vulnerable to the strain are children.
In the pediatric intensive care unit, Jade was unresponsive and need a ventilator to breath for her.
"Influenza B is activating her own immune system, to start attacking her own organs, specifically the brain and causing brain swelling," said Dr. Aditya Badheka at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.
For days, Jade's mom and dad didn't know what the future would bring.
Her doctors feared she might not survive the illness.
"It just hurts and it rips your heart out because you just want her to wake up,” said Phillips.
Finally, after nearly two weeks, Jade woke up.
It felt like a miracle, but then for doctors noticed something Jade had lost her vision.
The flu caused inflammation in her brain, and she may be blind forever.
Her parents know Jade still has a long way to go in her recovery, and they are stunned by what the flu can do to a healthy child.
Jade went home from the hospital on Jan. 9.
Her mom says both Jade and her sister received a flu shot last March.
She thought that shot was good for an entire year and didn't realize she needed to get her girls vaccinated again for the new 2019-2020 flu season.
Since the flu virus changes year to year, the vaccine also changes.
Flu vaccines become available at the end of the summer, and the CDC recommends getting one by the end of October to protect against flu in the upcoming winter.
A GoFundMe page has been established to help the family pay for medical expenses.
Courtesy of CNN Newsource