Juanita Vidana took her 7-year-old son, Cisco Galvez, to the emergency room on New Year’s Eve when he started having trouble breathing. She was greeted by a room full of people who looked like they had the flu.

Vidana told ABC 13 about the signs that surrounded her and Cisco when they arrived. She said:

“It was full of people coughing and sneezing— everybody was there for the flu basically.”

Since doctors thought it was Cisco’s asthma that was making it hard for the child to breathe, he was treated for asthma and released.

Cisco only got worse, though. By Wednesday, the boy from San Bernardino, California, was suffering from a painful stomachache, extreme fatigue, and a fever.

That’s when Vidana went back to the E.R. with her son, even though he wanted to stay home where he was comfortable. The mother explained:

“He said, ‘Mom, I just want to go home and sleep on the couch. I want to lay and stretch my legs. I love you.’ I told him I loved him and that I would bring him home as soon as they gave him the medicine and he was better.”

Sadly, Vidana never got to bring him back home. The 7-year-old boy died as they were waiting to send him to the ICU.

The devastated mom said:

“It happened so fast, in days, in a matter of days. I never expected it. He was very healthy.”

Doctors told the mom that her son died from myocarditis, a heart condition which often results from the flu. Dr. Adrian Cotton at Loma Linda University Health explained:

“It’s a very well-known complication of influenza. Again, it doesn’t happen very often, but when it happens it’s very bad.”

Signs and symptoms of myocarditis, which reduces the heart’s ability to pump, include chest pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, and arrhythmias, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Parents can watch for symptoms in their children, which include:

  • Fever
  • Fainting
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid or abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias)

Cotton described this as the worst flu season in 15 to 20 years, with almost every U.S. state battling the illness. He said:

“Most people think of the flu as a cold, you know, ‘I’m going to get over it.’ Hopefully, people get over it but not everybody does.”

Cisco’s mother wasn’t taking any chances with the flu after his death.

She went back to the hospital the day after her son died with her 5-month-old son and 9-year-old daughter in tow— they’d begun to show symptoms of the flu. None of her children had gotten their flu shots this year.

Cisco’s aunt has started a GoFundMe page to help his family pay for the funeral.

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