One Baby's Battle with a Bacterial Infection Goes Viral
Apr 20, 2012
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.
This guest post was written by Alethea Mshar out of concern for her son Ben. A version of this post originally appeared on her blog Ben’s Writing, Running Mom. Like all parents, my child’s health...
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