Fernandina Beach High School student dies battling form of mono

Ariana Delfs’ illness started with typical cold & flu-like symptoms, family says

VIDEO: A senior at Fernandina Beach High School dies after battling what doctors are calling a form of mono.

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – A senior at Fernandina Beach High School has died after contracting what doctors have called a form of mono, family members told News4Jax on Wednesday.

Mark Delfs, the father of Ariana Rae Delfs, said his daughter’s illness started with typical cold and flu-like symptoms, but turned into a “bad perfect storm of events” leading to her death. A memorial was held for her Wednesday evening.

Ariana Delfs was a student athlete, an animal lover, a musician and an exceptional artist.

“Just amazing stuff. She would just draw something at the kitchen table, and it would just be sitting there when we came back down the stairs the next morning. She just left us gifts all over the house like that," Mark Delfs said.

He said his daughter was an old soul. She was quiet and loved spending time at her secret spot on the beach.

Ariana Delfs died at the young age of 17.

It was about three weeks ago when the teen started coming down with flu-like symptoms, feeling run-down and sleeping for hours.

“She seemed to have had a headache all the time,” Mark Delfs said. “Advil wouldn’t touch it. Tylenol wouldn’t touch it. We kept alternating. Nothing seemed to stop the headache.”

Doctors ran different tests to try and figure out what was wrong, but they couldn’t make a diagnosis.

“At the very end where we really got concerned was the vomiting. She was perfectly fine up until the point where she started vomiting,” Mark Delfs said. “That was the end right before she went to the hospital.”

The father said that’s when things quickly started going downhill.

“Out of nowhere, she just said she had problems walking. She couldn’t feel her legs. She had tunnel vision. She was slurring. She was saying just weird words,” he said. “I understand, at the end of the day, it was a form of mono that took her life.”

Mark Delfs said doctors did everything they could for his daughter up until the very end. He said the family is left with a lot of questions as to how things got so serious so quickly.

The day Ariana Delfs was taken off life support, her family learned she was an organ donor. The father said he became an organ donor Wednesday, and asks others do the same.

The teenager’s family has started a GoFundMe account for a legacy fund in her memory.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mono symptoms start developing four to six weeks after getting infected. The most common symptoms include extreme fatigue, fever, sore throat, headaches, body aches and swollen lymph nodes. Doctors say mono isn’t typically serious, but it can have dangerous complications.