4-Year-Old Iowa Girl Left With Extensive Brain Damage and Unable to See After Catching Flu on Christmas Eve

A 4-year-old girl in Iowa has suffered brain damage and lost her vision after catching the flu over the holiday season, according to her family.

Jade Delucia told her family she felt ill on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, they found her unconscious and rushed her to hospital, KWWL reported.

Delucia's grandmother, Courtney Frey, said the girl's parents didn't think anything of it when she felt sick as the highest her fever reached at home was 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

At hospital, she experienced seizures and was subsequently sent to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital. An MRI scan revealed the child's brain was extensively damaged.

Frey told KWWL that doctors ran several tests and found she had influenza B "that had gotten into her brain."

She said: "It was touch and go. She just couldn't breathe. The flu had built up in her lungs. Her brain had swelled."

Over a week after she first got sick, Delucia woke up. Holding back tears, Frey recalled: "She opened her eyes and started to move her little hands, and we just started to see a little bit more of her come back to us."

Amanda Phillips, Delucia's mother, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that her daughter could be out of hospital by next week. She shared a video of Delucia playing a toy drum, and explained she can't see.

Phillips said an eye specialist had visited Delucia, but found her eyes were healthy. The family are now waiting to see if she will regain her sight or if she is blind.

"We were preparing for the second so it didn't come as too much of a shock," she wrote.

Frey urged parents who are worried about their child's condition to take them to the doctor.

Delucia's next-door neighbor has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to keep the family "afloat financially." So far, over $6,400 has been donated. Others are fundraising by selling bracelets and holding beauty parties.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children under the age of five, and particularly those under two, are at greatest risk of developing complications due to the flu. These can include pneumonia, a brain problem called encephalopathy, issues with the sinuses, and ear infections. "In rare cases, flu complications can lead to death," the CDC states.

Each year, millions of children catch the flu. The national public health institute advises parents to get their child vaccinated against the flu, as it "offers the best defense against flu and its potentially serious consequences and can also reduce the spread of flu to others."

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A stock image shows a girl in a hospital bed. Getty