Less than two weeks after falling ill, 18-day-old Mariana died. Now the Sifrits hope others can learn from their story.
We hope to bring awareness to other parents of newborns to be cautious on who visits your baby, who holds or touches them, and don't let others kiss your baby.
"It is very common to catch the virus, but very rarely does it develop into meningitis," said Dr. Tanya Altmann, a pediatrician at Calabasas Pediatrics in California. "The first two months after a child is born are very critical, as a virus can rapidly spread and cause serious illness in newborns."
Babies younger than 1 month and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop severe illness when diagnosed with viral meningitis, according to the CDC, which advises parents to be particularly careful during the first months of a baby's life.
Mariana could have been infected by anyone, from employees in the maternity ward to family members or friends. The person who exposed Mariana to the virus didn’t even need to have cold sores at the time to spread the infection.
When she first arrived at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, doctors gave Mariana medications to treat the virus and then blood transfusions. Nothing helped.
The virus damaged her organs. First her liver started failing, then her kidneys. Doctors transferred Mariana to University of Iowa Hospitals for dialysis to help the kidney failure. But these treatments didn’t slow the virus’ progression.
While the family feels devastated by Mariana’s loss, they take comfort knowing they were with her during her final moments.
“We are thankful we were able to say goodbye to our princess as many of parents lose their children unexpectedly,” Sifrit said.