Brady’s Battle with Pertussis
As we highlight the importance of childhood immunizations, it’s important that we also recognize the impact that vaccines can have on people in our communities that are not able to be vaccinated. Since infants don’t begin receiving vaccinations for many diseases until they are two months old, they remain vulnerable at a time when they are also most fragile. Additionally, we must consider the children and adults on chemotherapy or who have immune system deficiencies. Often these patients can’t be vaccinated because of their condition or the vaccines are ineffective for them. For these patients to be protected, it’s important that other members of the community do their part and help reduce the spread of disease by keeping up to date with their vaccines.
It only takes one tragedy – like that experienced by Jonathan Alcaide and Kathy Riffenburg, who recently loss their son Brady – to remind us that we can help protect one another from a highly contagious infection known as pertussis, or whooping cough.
In a recent interview with WWLP News out of Chicopee, MA, Barbara Stechenberg, Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Baystate Children’s Hospital, explains how pertussis can often be contracted by an infant through an adult who has not been given a Tdap booster shot.
“One of the important things to know is most babies who develop whooping cough get it from an older child or an adult in the family,” said Dr. Stechenberg.
In the case of Jon and Kathy, their son Brady was a healthy and happy baby born on November 20, 2011 and weighing in at 8 lb 6 oz. As excited as they were, they thought they were taking every precaution with their baby son. They even insisted that visitors wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before they were permitted to pick him up.
But then in early January, they noticed Brady was coming down with what they assumed was a cold. When his fever spiked to 104 they brought him to the ER where they completed a multitude of tests. They finally sent him home, requesting that they keep an eye on the cold. Kathy kept her friends and family updated on Brady’s condition through her own Facebook posts.
January 9 : I hate when one of my babies are sick baby to go to the ER on sat/sun morning because of a high temp they ran tests and everything came back negative thank god! Went to his pedi today got more blood work it’s just a cold no medicine thankfully he is fine! Hope my little guy gets better soon
January 11: Went to the pedi office this morning with my Brady pants his breathing was worrying us we have to do updraft treatments every few hours and go back for 6 to see the md poor little guy
January 15 : Home my sis is here bought us a humidifier for Brady for Christmas hopefully it will help with his horrible cough! When will this end its horrible having him so sick
One week later, they were back at the hospital. While the staff at BayState Medical Center worked diligently to help Brady, his condition fluctuated daily, as observed through Kathy’s continued Facebook updates.
January 16: Well Brady is being admitted to BMC for his breathing, we have a room in ICU for babies
January 17: Brady is still having a high respiration rate not a change I feel he’s getting worse I guess this particular virus this is what we can expect …worse before better
January 17: Daddy went home to be with the girls and let them sleep in their own beds, just me Brady and the Bruins ♥ hopefully we have a quiet night… on a good note his breathing is getting better and he even gave daddy a smile before he left! Keep the prayers coming they are being heard! High possibility no breathing tube will be needed
January 17: Guess who’s awake and feeling a little better ♥
January 17: A little smile he is saving them all for the nurses little flirt! — with Jonathan Alcaide.
January 18: Yeah they are going to try to give my little bruiser some food! when he wakes up I can or Jon whichever is here, a bottle its been well over a day and a half since he’s eaten ♥
January 19: This has been a long long journey, I don’t ever want to go through this again, and wouldn’t wish this upon my worst enemy. Brady is doing ok unfortunately he can’t eat on his own we have to put the feeding tube back in because oral feeding is too much right now for the little guy
January 20: Well 2 months ago I had my handsome little boy ♥ and today is day 5 in the pedi ICU, hopefully good news will be coming our way
It’s hard when you see everyone coming and going from this unit, seems everyone but Brady is getting better when will it end? Just want to bring my son home
So tired and exhausted hopefully some good news tomorrow
January 22: Don’t want to jinx but Mr Brady pants is being weaned off his oxygen flow Dr. Duda the respiratory md says he sounds and looks great and we soon can start the feedings back up keeping positive my little guy will be out soon
January 23: Brady is still doing the same they finally after 8 days started him on antibiotics they think its whooping cough the min we can leave is 5 days! this is the worst experience I ever had to go through so thankful to have Jon we are side by side holding each other’s hand balancing this and the girls boy after this we need a vacation
January 23: So now they have to place a breathing tube keep praying for my baby ♥
January 24: They are switching out the ventilator because his body wasn’t responding like they wanted it to; his carbon dioxide level was on the high side. Now they are starting him on heliox system…my poor baby just looks so still, I can’t wait till this Crap is done and over with
January 26: Just to let everyone know Brady’s status is not getting better not worse but we have a team of attendings that are going to be taking on his case with the md that he has had…they are assessing him now and going to brainstorm on what is going to happen next. Just want my baby back Healthy
At this point there was little that Brady’s parents could do but hope and pray that their precious boy would get better. However, Brady’s condition grew desperate and on Juanuary 27th, Brady was transferred to Children’s Hospital in Boston. He passed away the next day, just barely 2 months old.
January 27: We are now at Boston’s children hospital, Brady is in critical condition his heart stopped and they had to give him compressions…we are waiting to see him they put him on a heart and lung bypass machine. They are worried about brain injury; please pray he will be a healthy boy playing baseball someday. I will try to update as much as I can
January 28: Brady Robert Alcaide 11/20/11~1/28/12 May the angels carry him home ♥
Kathy and Jon were stunned by what had happened. Their once healthy son had succumbed to a fast-moving, fatal disease and it wasn’t until after Brady was gone that they received confirmation that the diagnosis was pertussis. As Kathy explains,
“People don’t think much about diseases like whooping cough these days. I never would have imagined that this could happen.”
Now Kathy and Jon are determined to educate everyone to get a Tdap booster, especially if they have any contact with newborns. To help prevent this sort of tragedy from happening to other families, they have become regional advocates for Every Child By Two and have started a Facebook page called “Brady’s Cause” where they’re asking people to pledge to get vaccinated.
Let’s let Kathy and Jon know how much we appreciate them sharing Brady’s story. We are grateful to all our family advocates who continue to spread the word about the importance of adult Tdap boosters during National Infant Immunization Week and all throughout the year. Together we can hep protect babies from pertussis.