JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A grieving Jacksonville mother is speaking out to put a face on a tragedy that has torn her life apart. Her son, 4, died after getting the flu.
Amanda Arthur says her son, Ryan J. Arthur, was the first pediatric flu death in Duval County this flu season. Arthur said she took Ryan to Wolfson Children's Hospital a few days before Christmas. After he was treated, she says they sent him home and gave him a breathing treatment and steroid.
The next morning she says he still had a fever. She took him back to Wolfson Children's Hospital and he was admitted.
"As the night went on, he just slowly declined," said Amanda Arthur. "The results for the flu test came back after he had passed away that he indeed had a strain of flu, and it was so bad that it attacked his heart. I'm believing he went into cardiac arrest."
A Wolfson Children's Hospital spokeswoman confirms Ryan Arthur died at the hospital December 23, 2012, in connection to Influenza B.
"I watched my kid die right in front of me, turn blue and everything, and I never want a parent to go through that ever," said Arthur.
"My heart is ripped in half. He was my only child. He was my only blood relation in the state and I'm torn apart. People are looking at me like how are you standing? And I don't know. I just have an angel who is watching out for me and that's Ryan."
She says her son went from being healthy and excited about Santa Claus coming to becoming gravely ill in just short period of time. First vomiting and a loss of apetite, then body aches, stuffy nose and fever.
"The awareness of people thinking he just has a little fever. No, people need to bring them no matter what. And demand that stuff gets done," said Arthur.
Dr. Mobeen Rathore, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Wolfson Children's Hospital, says early on, a cold and flu can present themselves the same. That's why he urges everyone over six months old who doesn't have a contraindication to get a flu vaccine.
"You can still get the vaccine. It can still provide you benefit. The message right now is vaccinate don't procrastinate," said Dr. Rathore.
Ryan's mother said her son had not gotten a flu shot this season. It's something she deeply regrets.
She hopes by sharing her story she will encourage other parents to make sure their children get one so no other family has to endure the pain she is going through.
"When I went over to the bed to see him the last time he was alive, he was just convulsing. That's when they shooed me out of the room. There were like twenty people who worked on him. They couldn't save him," said Arthur.
Flu season typically runs through March. First For You, here is what the Duval County Health Department recommends to help prevent the spread of germs.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away after use and wash your hands. If a tissue is not available, cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve, not your hand.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
First Coast News