This beautiful little girl's story came to me through a friend, and describes one family's struggle when their precious daughter became critically ill with pertussis. While pertussis may be relatively mild in adults, in infants it can be serious and even fatal. The CDC recommends that all adults receive their TDaP booster to protect newborns from the potentially devastating effects of pertussis.
May all babies be born into loving hands...
K. Michelle Doyle, CNM, NYS LM
Family and Friends,
Leena has been home from the hospital 3 weeks and is improving daily. As many of you know, she contracted Pertussis (AKA whooping cough) at 6 weeks of age, 2 weeks before she was scheduled to start her routine immunizations. Pertussis is potentially deadly in very young babies. She spent 2 weeks in the pediatric ICU at Presbyterian/St. Luke's in Denver (the hospital where I have worked for 13 years), much of that time intubated (breathing by a ventilator), sedated, and paralyzed. Thanks to quick recognition and treatment, exceptional medical care, and prayers from all over the country, we were able to take our baby Leena home with us.
She still needs continuous oxygen and has mean coughing spells typical of Pertussis. These can persist for weeks. But as you can tell from the attached photo, she is in great spirits. We are hoping to ditch the O2 very soon.
From whom she contracted this rare infection is a stumper. Children are routinely vaccinated against Pertussis, starting at 2 months of age. Recently, medical experts have noted that the Pertussis vaccine may lose efficacy in adulthood. So Leena may have contracted Pertussis from an unvaccinated child or a previously-vaccinated adult. We will never know.
We do know that increasing numbers of parents, many of them in Colorado, are declining childhood vaccinations due to publicized allegations that they may cause autism. This claim is based upon a single study published in 1998 in the medical journal The Lancet. The link between vaccinations and autism has never been reproduced in the medical literature. In fact, just last week the study was retracted by the The Lancet because of unethical research methods.
Please share our story with anyone you know who is considering not vaccinating their children. Look what it can do to a child...and look what it can do to someone else's child.
Also, it is a great idea to go to your doctor's office and get a Pertussis "booster." Although Pertussis can assume a mild form in adults, it can obviously have severe consequences in babies. Sorry if this is sounding like a public service announcement.
We hope to put this nightmare behind us very soon. To everyone who supported us and prayed with us over the last several weeks, we will be eternally grateful.
Lisa Farkouh, M.D.