Iowa Girl, 4, Regains Sight After Going Blind from Flu Complications: 'She's Not Giving Up'
“It was so cool she was able to see again," said the child's mother
The Iowa family has been offering updates on Jade since she lost her vision and other neurological functions due to the flu after not receiving a vaccine, and now, the girl’s mom Amanda Phillips says that her daughter has regained her eyesight.
“She was following people around, she was giving high-fives, and it was awesome,” Phillips told KCRG. “It was so cool she was able to see again; it was the best thing.”
On Christmas Eve, DeLucia’s father Stephen DeLucia went to wake up his daughter, only to find her unresponsive in bed and running a high fever. Stephen and Phillips rushed the child to a local hospital, where Jade started having a seizure.
Doctors had her immediately taken by helicopter to the children’s hospital at the University of Iowa, 80 miles away in Iowa City, while her parents made the journey by car.
“I didn’t think I was going to see her again at that point,” Phillips told CNN in January. “I really didn’t. Just from looking at her, I really honestly didn’t think I was going to see her.”
Jade spent two weeks at the hospital and was completely unresponsive for seven days. Doctors determined the flu reached her brain, and Jade had encephalopathy, a rare but known complication of the flu that can cause brain damage and death.
“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,” Phillips said.
After going on steroids to reduce the swelling in her brain, Jade woke up, but she didn’t have her vision intact.
“It affected the part of her brain that perceives sight, and we don’t know if she’s going to get her vision back,” her pediatric neurologist said at the time. “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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In a Facebook Group called Jade’s Journey, created to keep people posted on the girl’s progress, family members say they are staying strong as they learn more about Jade’s condition and road to recovery.
“We are so incredibly lucky,” wrote Phillips in a Facebook post. “I miss Jade. But this Jade now is even more amazing. I know she will be okay. Because, that’s all I know. She will be okay because I say it will. I will be okay because I know it will.”
She continued: “It’s incredibly hard and we’re still learning. But I will never give up because she’s not giving up. Her strength is mine. And, she came from me.”
Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 105 children have died from the flu this season. The majority of the deaths were associated with the influenza B virus, which is the most commonly reported influenza virus among children and young adults ages 0 to 24.