JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Duval County Health Department confirmed earlier this month that a 4-year-old boy's death was flu-related. Now, his mother is sharing her son's final moments.
As part of a nationwide health alert, the Center for Disease Control says 37 children have died from the flu. Jacksonville pre-schooler Ryan Arthur, who died in late December, is now part of that statistic.
"He was a vibrant, active four-year-old and he was my little buddy," said Amanda Arthur, Ryan's mother, on Sunday. "I was a single parent, so we did everything together. "To have him not here is like there's a whole half of me missing."
Arthur said she lost her first and only child in a matter of three days. She described his final moments in the hospital when she said his skin and lips went blue.
"I knew what was going on, and I just grabbed him and he was just like 'I'm just so tired,'" said Arthur. "I was like 'We'll, don't go to sleep yet.'"
Arthur said Ryan had always been healthy and she taught him about germs and keeping clean. But this season, she said she wasn't able to get him a flu shot.
"God wanted him for a reason, and I think it's just to say 'Hey, look,' and after doing my research about the flu, it's not just wash your hands cover your cough. You gotta really be careful," said Arthur. "If you start feeling like you don't feel good, go see the doctor."
Arthur said she's waiting to find out more before she tells parents what to do to keep this from happening to their kids. The health department and the CDC say they are still going over Ryan's case.
For now, Arthur said she's praying for him and hoping his beautiful face and that smile that stretched from ear to ear isn't forgotten.
"Then I blame myself, and I'm done blaming myself," said Arthur. "I did everything I could to save my child and he was the world to me. The legacy he leaves behind is my voice."
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