13-month-old diagnosed with respiratory virus in critical condition, mother says

Jaclyn Lee says son in pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A local mother told News4Jax her 13-month-old son is fighting for his life at Wolfson Children’s Hospital.

Jaclyn Lee said her son, Nicson, has been diagnosed with respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and is in critical condition in the pediatric intensive care unit at Wolfson, where he is hooked up to a machine to help his heart and lungs keep working. (GoFundMe account)

“You just feel helpless because you can’t barely touch him or hold him and you just can’t see his eyes, and he’s sedated to keep him comfortable,” Lee told News4Jax. “He was a premature baby, so he was more prone to get it.”

Lee says Nicson was born at just 27 weeks, weighing two pounds. He routinely gets an RSV vaccine due to a preexisting lung condition. She said Nicson seemed fine a few weeks ago, but he quickly came down with a fever, a croupy cough and became lifeless. So, she rushed him to the emergency room.

“I am just glad I got him there when I did because I don’t know if a few more minutes he would be here right now," Lee said. “At one point they had to administer CPR and he was sent here by their mobile ICU unit.”

Dr. Asma Salahuddin, a pediatric hospitalist at Wolfson, joins us this morning to explain the risk.

Now at Wolfson Children’s Hospital downtown, Nicson is receiving exceptional care from doctors and nurses who are doing everything in their power to make sure her son survives, Lee said. “They are so amazing, and I couldn’t ask for better doctors and nurses,” she said.

Lee wants other parents to know the signs, symptoms and dangers of the respiratory virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the symptoms of RSV infection usually include running nose, decrease in appetite, coughing, sneezing, fever and wheezing.

News4Jax spoke with Dr. Rachna Krish, a local pediatrician, about RSV. She said it is going around right now and, in fact, she just treated a case of it last week.

Krish explained what you need to know about RSV:

"It’s a respiratory virus that affects children typically under the age of 2. Not everyone can get it. It’s usually in the winter season -- it comes along with flu. It typically looks like a cold, and most of the time, it’s fine. It’ll go away. It’s just those rare cases where it does, you know, cause a lot of respiratory issues, and in that sense, I would highly encourage you to go see your physician before it gets too severe and you end up in the emergency room.

"You can have coughing, high fevers, congestion and usually, that’s it. And it’ll typically last one or two weeks, and then it’ll be gone, and you’ll just think it’s a regular cold.

"Since it’s a virus, just like most viruses, there’s not actually a treatment per se like antibiotics, but what we do is we try to treat the symptoms. So, in that sense, if the child is having difficulty breathing or is wheezing, then we can give them albuterol nebulizer treatments, which is what we use for asthma, but it doesn’t mean that your child has asthma or anything like that. It’s just that’s how we treat the wheezing and the difficulty breathing. The rest of it is just supportive care. We make sure they don’t get dehydrated, because a lot of them will have decreased appetite, so you want to make sure that they’re still drinking. And you can just use steamy showers and humidifiers, things like that to just help with the congestion because it is a lot of congestion.

"There’s really not much you can do to prevent it. If you’re in a day care setting and, you know, things like that, you’re more likely to get it. So then just be more on the lookout for it and just try to keep your kid as healthy as you can. Any child under the age of 2 can (get it), so it can be in newborns. And when it is in newborns, that is very, very serious, very dangerous, and that is when we highly encourage you to come see us, your physician or go to the emergency room.”

The family is facing more than $100,000 in medical bills because Nicson is expected to be in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for up to six weeks.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family.

About the Author:

Approaching 10 years in Jacksonville, this Florida girl continues learning more about this community and its people.