A Virginia couple is mourning the death of their 4-month-old son who died on June 30, just one day after the baby began exhibiting his first symptoms of meningitis, according to reports.
Killy Schultz had a rash and a fever when he returned home from daycare one day in June, his mother, Alex Dempsey, told WTVR. Dempsey gave the child Tylenol, and when that didn’t help, she rushed the little boy to St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond, where doctors determined that Schultz had likely contracted meningitis from a person who had not been vaccinated.
Shortly after, Schultz’s heart rate dropped abruptly and the boy died, according to WTVR.
“This is is a nightmare no parent, no family, should ever have to experience,” relatives wrote on a GoFundMe page to cover the boy’s funeral costs. “His loss leaves a profound hole in the hearts of everyone who knew him.”
Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although people of any age can develop the illness, babies are at increased risk for meningitis compared to other age groups.
Meningitis symptoms, including headache, fever and stiff neck, may be difficult to notice in infants, the CDC reports, noting that symptoms can develop in as little as three days. Parents who think their children may have the illness should see a doctor immediately. About one in 15 children who get meningitis die from the infection, according to the CDC.
Schultz’s diagnosis came as a shock to his parents. But Dempsey, of Chesterfield, told the station that she knew there was little hope for the infant to recover from the severe illness.
“The moment they said meningitis I knew there was a really strong possibility that we were going to lose him,” she told WTVR. “They told us we were going to hit the window if he was going to make it or not but being he was only four months old he didn’t really have an immune system to help us with that.”
She told the station that officials believed the boy likely contracted the illness from an unvaccinated person.
“If anything comes out of this, we want people to be aware that vaccinations can prevent things like this,” she said. “He was just a baby, so he really didn’t have much of a chance.”
The death came just days after Schultz received his vaccinations.
Facebook photos show the smiling boy sporting a sweet smile in photos with relatives. In a Thursday Facebook post, Dempsey wrote that she and her fiancé Gabriel Schultz “need time” to “properly grieve.”
“Your words, your support, your kindness…they have all been priceless to us. However, for now, we need time,” she wrote. “To those that don’t see me for a while, I am okay. I have wonderful people protecting me, and caring for me.”