Jacob had always been healthy. In fact, he had never been sick before, other than the occasional cold virus and strep throat. But, on January 27, 2011, Jacob began to not feel well. He spiked a high fever, had a sore throat and was complaining that he was having trouble breathing. He also had a croupy sounding cough. His mother took him to the doctor; in fact, she took him every day for four days in a row, and each time the doctor told him that his lungs sounded clear.
However, on January 31, Jacob was rushed to the hospital. It was his 12th birthday. As soon as Jacob arrived at the hospital, he was intubated and then transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital where he stayed on a ventilator for four days. He ended up being diagnosed with staph pneumonia and influenza A. Jacob was in the hospital for a total of nine days.
Thankfully, Jacob survived, but it has been a very long recovery. He has had recurring bouts of pneumonia, and has had four bronchoscopies to clean out his lungs. He uses a mechanical vest two times every day to shake mucus from his scarred lungs, along with nebulizer treatments. His lungs are permanently damaged from the infections. But, he gets stronger every day.
Although Jacob was vaccinated against the flu that year, he either did not build up enough antibodies when he caught the virus or it was a variant of the flu virus that was not in that year’s vaccine. But, Jacob’s mother knows that the vaccine may have saved his life – it may have given Jacob just enough protection to get through it. So, she encourages everyone six months and older to get vaccinated against the flu every year. She also wants to encourage other parents to urge their child’s doctor to test for influenza the very first time their child presents with symptoms – even if they have already been vaccinated. Jacob was at the doctor’s office four times before he was rushed to the hospital. Because he was not tested for influenza until two days after he started feeling sick, he missed the window of opportunity to start anti-viral medication, which may have lessened the severity of the disease.
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