Place of Residence: Newport News, Virginia
Madison was a magical, eight-year-old little girl who loved to play constantly, make new friends, and watch Disney movies. Her favorite movies were Disney’s Frozen and Trolls, and she loved the color pink. She lit up every room she walked into and she always seemed to have a smile on her face. Sadly, Madison lost her life to flu in February 2020 just two days after being diagnosed with influenza A (H1N1), which also led to pneumonia and sepsis. Her mother, Jennifer, misses Madison’s radiant smile, her laugh, and her hugs and kisses.
Madison’s mother, Jennifer, shares the story of how she lost her eight-year-old daughter to flu.
What were some of Madison’s personality traits?
Madison was a magical little girl who loved to play constantly. She was always looking to make new friends and she lit up every room she walked into. She loved Disney movies, including Frozen and Trolls, and pink was her favorite color.
What were some of your favorite things to do together?
Madison loved to paint, garden, read books and help me cook. She played soccer and loved going to school, including participating in after-school activities. She kept me busy all the time! I will mostly miss her smile, her laugh and every second of the day I miss her hugs and kisses. I miss her little voice calling me “Mommy”.
My son, Jaden – Madison’s brother – misses his little sister terribly. His favorite memories of Madison include playing games and running around outside. They weren’t just siblings, they were best friends.
How did Madison become sick? How did her illness progress?
Madison started acting unusually tired and had some belly discomfort a few days before her death. She spiked a fever on her birthday, which was February 23rd, and was diagnosed with influenza A (H1N1) the next day at the doctor’s office. I realized Madison’s illness was serious when her breathing became labored on February 25th. We took her back to the doctor and they immediately sent her to the emergency room because her blood oxygen level was really low (48%).
At the emergency room, she was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia and they started her on breathing treatments. Madison was being transferred to the local children’s hospital when she suffered a pulmonary hemorrhage, which then led to cardiac arrest, sepsis, and other complications. She died before the medical team could stabilize her.
Was Madison vaccinated?
Although Madison had received a seasonal flu vaccine, I realize that no vaccine provides 100% protection. Flu was circulating in our community and for whatever reason, her little body just couldn’t fight it off after being exposed. I firmly believe that vaccination is important for everyone to help protect yourself and others.
What do you want others to know about flu? What advice would you give them if they don’t think vaccines are important?
I had no idea that flu could kill a healthy, vaccinated child. The grief that I have suffered as a result of losing Madison has been horrible. I want others to know that vaccinating themselves helps reduce the spread of disease and could possibly save others from the pain that my family has experienced. I regularly tell Madison’s story to highlight the importance of vaccination.
Jennifer and her family, including her husband Brian and Madison’s brother Jaden, are now strong vaccine advocates and share Madison’s story to remind others about the importance of annual flu vaccination for everyone six months and older, consistent with the recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).