Mother’s nightmare: infant daughters contract potentially deadly respiratory virus

Local News

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Upon returning from vacation, Rockford mom Kianna Starks got the news no parent wants to hear: both of her infant daughters had contracted a potentially deadly virus.

Doctors at Mercyhealth Javon Bea Hospital Riverside diagnosed Starks’ 4-month-old daughter, Brooklynn, with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be deadly for infants.

“When it first happened, I thought it was a common cold,” she said. “I never thought it was just going to escalate to having her put on the breathing machine.”

To make matters worse, Brooklynn’s twin sister, Londynn, also caught it.

“Londynn started to show the same symptoms,” Starks remembered. “She contracted the same virus, but her case wasn’t as severe.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all young children get the respiratory virus, but sometimes it can be serious and require hospitalization.

“It’s been a particularly difficult year for the viruses, and not only RSV but a lot of other viruses are really hitting the children hard,” said Dr. Mary Baldauf, a pediatric physician at Mercyhealth Javon Bea Hospital Riverside. “They’re requiring a lot of oxygen, quite a lot of them use machines to breathe.”

Brooklynn was hooked up to machines at Mercyhealth for a month.

“It was just rough, just seeing all these other families get to go home and I’m just like, ‘Gosh, am I going home? Are we going home? Am I leaving here without her?’ It was like just seeing her in the bed so lifeless,” Starks said.

Both Brooklynn and Londynn are home and doing well.

“That was amazing,” said Dr. Baldauf. “It’s like a celebration when somebody goes home. It’s even a celebration when somebody graduates from the intensive care unit to the regular pediatric floor. There’s just these milestones these babies accomplish. It’s incredible.”

Starks said, “It was great to see her back to her old self. I thank you so much Dr. Mary, because you guys saved my daughter’s life. Because when you see them like that, you’re thinking, ‘Geez! Am I ever going to be able to hold my baby?'”

The CDC reports that nearly 60,000 are hospitalized each year. Mercyhealth says they’ve been seeing more children come in with RSV.

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