Home > Parent Perspective, Preventable Diseases, Testimonials > One Baby’s Battle with a Bacterial Infection Goes Viral

One Baby’s Battle with a Bacterial Infection Goes Viral

How is it possible that one tiny baby, who only graced this planet for a mere 27 days, can have such an enormous impact on people today?

I believe it has to do with passion…persistence… and the horrible impact of a disease called pertussis.

Kaliah was only 27 days old when she lost her life to pertussis.  However, her life – like every other child’s life – was precious.  And her family – like every other family – did everything possible to try to prevent this tragedy.  Now Kaliah’s family is grieving.  But they are also fighting.  Fighting to find the strength and courage to share Kaliah’s story to spare other families from experiencing their unimaginable pain.

The story begins with the heartfelt words of her young mother, Chelsey, who explains

 “When I first held her, my entire life changed at that moment.” 

She shares the pain of this devastating disease as she reveals the shocking discovery that both she and her baby had pertussis.  She elaborates on the details of the difficult days that followed, as we come to learn that Kaliah would not survive.  One can’t help but feel the sorrow as we hear how Kaliah was suffering.   Chelsey concludes her story by saying,

“I keep telling myself that god gave me Kaliah for a reason, even if I couldn’t have her forever. I knew that when she passed I would make her live on and share her story to save other babies from this horrible disease. I would not let her die for no reason. She was too beautiful for the earth. I am doing my best to educate the world by telling Kaliah’s story.”

According to Shot By Shot, who recently featured this story as one of the many stories of vaccine preventable diseases that they have posted on their website, the details of Kaliah’s life…and death…have already been shared with 1.5 million viewers in just a matter of a few days.  And it’s clear that this story is getting so much attention because it’s touching people in real ways.

Unfortunately, this is just one of the many stories we hear about children dying from pertussis.   There are plenty others like it.  Like Carter’s story, Callie’s story, Gabrielle’s story and many, many more.  In fact, at this very point in time, there are pertussis outbreaks in Washington state, as well as Wisconsin, Colorado and various other states.  People of all ages may currently be suffering with pertussis.  But the worst part is that they may not even know it.  Some, may even be passing it unknowingly on to their own infant children.

Fortunately there is a vaccine to help prevent pertussis.  It’s called a Tdap and it provides immunity for tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.  However, just because there is a vaccine to prevent pertussis, doesn’t mean people no longer suffer from this illness.  There are a number of reasons why there continue to be outbreaks around the country.

First, no vaccine is 100% effective on everyone that receives it.  Then of course, there are some people who choose not to be vaccinated and others who are simply not aware that they need a booster shot to continue to extend their immunity.  So, as a person’s immunity wanes over time, they become susceptible to carrying and spreading this illness to others.  Unfortunately that may include newborn babies who are not yet old enough to be vaccinated themselves.

To begin with, an infant doesn’t start receiving their pertussis vaccines (called DTaP) until the age of 2 months.  And then, they must complete the series to be fully immunized with shots at 4 months, 6 months, 15-18 months and again at 4-6 years.  During this time children are at a considerable risk of contracting pertussis, especially if they have close contact with someone who is infected.

Additionally, many pre-teens, adolescents and adults are not up to date with their Tdap booster shots, which should begin at age 11-12.  Reduced immunity increases the potential for this highly contagious respiratory illness to be spread to others through droplets in the air produced by coughing and sneezing.    To make matters worse, diagnosis is often challenging as well, and many adults may simply mistake their symptoms for a bad cold.   But pertussis can be extremely persistent, which is why it’s often dubbed the 100 day cough, and it’s important to note that even if you contract pertussis in the past, that this does not guarantee you lifelong immunity.  It is quite possible for previous patients to get the infection again.

However, in helping to educate people about the dangers of pertussis, Every Child By Two Executive Director, Amy Pisani, recently appeared on NBC News CT as seen in this video clip below.

We encourage readers to not only share this video, but to visit the Shot by Shot website and read Kaliah’s story.  You can even visit the Shot By Shot Facebook page where you will witness how this story is truly touching the hearts of those who have read it, with comments like the following:

“I don’t have any kids right now, but when the time comes I will make sure that I do whatever I can to make sure that my baby is fine. You’re story just educated me on what I need to look out for. Thank you for sharing your story.”

“I am so sadden by your story, it hit so close to home, as the same day, July 20, 1011, my teenage daughter gave birth to my first grandchild Aiden. I couldn’t imagine life without him.”

“When I first had my daughter I was so against vaccinating! I’m still picky about what she gets. My argument was “where is she gonna get any of these diseases? If everyone else is vaccinated, then she’s safe and there is nothing to catch!” But this story scares me! That this stuff IS still out there and ISNT eradicated! Thank you for sharing!”

“Chelsey , you are so courageous and brave to have shared your story to educate mothers and everyone to get vaccinated and lower the risks of babies from getting whooping cough.”

“By sharing your story it has made me aware of things I knew nothing about before. I will be sure to pass this vital information on to anyone who will listen.”

“I have a grandchild due next month & I will speak with my Dr. about my husband & I receiving this vaccine.”

We encourage you to include your comments so that Chelsey and her family will recognize that Kahlia’s story is helping to get the message out about the dangers of pertussis and the importance of vaccination. 

  1. Dr.E
    April 20, 2012 at 11:28 am | #1

    I am thankful this family has the courage to tell their story. The impact one story can have is immeasurable. Kudos to Chelsey. Well done.

  2. April 20, 2012 at 11:30 am | #2

    My first grandchild is due in the next 2-3 weeks and I have almost gotten all of the immediate family vaccinated against pertussis. As a public health nurse, I can educate and vaccinate people against this horrible disease and as a prospective grandparent, I would not want a baby to die from something that is preventable.

  3. laura zwahlen
    April 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm | #3

    My heart aches for you and your family. We lost a little girl 8 years ago and despite being blessed with two amazing little boys, I miss her terribly. I am due Dept 10th with a little girl and I will absolutely be doing everything I can to protect her. That includes making sure anyone who comes into contact with her is immunized.
    May the sun shine a bit brighter for you and your family each and every day.

  4. April 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | #4

    We are also so thankful that Chelsey is sharing her story – and know it is helping so many others protect their babies. Chelsey worked with our state health department to record a radio PSA, you can listen to it here: http://www.doh.wa.gov.

  5. Daisy
    April 20, 2012 at 11:20 pm | #5

    I’ve shared this on another site, but I’ll add it here, too. I was early in pregnancy when a high school friend and Kaliah’s Aunt asked for friends to help with prayer. My family became part of a huge group praying for baby Kaliah. When she didn’t make it I got to watch her family come together and begin a passioate campaign of awareness. It was both devestating and touching.

    I didn’t watch the news then as I was overly emotional with the pregnancy hormones. As such, I’m so very grateful to Kaliah’s family for spreading the word about the pertussis epidemic and current inforation about what we can do about it. Without them and silly old Facebook I may have learned too late. Maybe not at all.

  6. j
    April 22, 2012 at 10:27 pm | #6

    So, it would appear the mother was unvaccinated or undervaccinated to.

  7. August 5, 2013 at 5:45 pm | #7

    Hello my loved one! I wish to say that this article is amazing, nice written and include approximately all significant infos. I’d like to peer more posts like this .|

  8. March 30, 2014 at 11:46 pm | #8

    I admire the family’s courage to share the story of Kaliah and tell the world how important it really is to protect your child even before giving birth to them. I’m sure Kaliah’s parents were willing to give up everything just to save her.

  1. April 20, 2012 at 6:26 pm | #1

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 331 other followers