Family heartbroken after 1-month-old baby dies from rare virus

The family is speaking out in hopes of warning others about parechovirus.
Published: Jul. 3, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HAMDEN, Conn. (WFSB) - A Connecticut family is speaking out after the death of their 1-month-old son in hopes of warning others about parechovirus, which doctors say may be underdiagnosed.

Ronan was born a happy and healthy baby to Kat and Mitch Delancy in May. He was their second child.

“He was born May 21st, a healthy, full-term baby,” Kat Delancy said. “We went from the highest high to the lowest low in a span of a month.”

When Ronan was about a week old, his parents noticed something was wrong, WFSB reports.

“He was fussier, he wasn’t eating quite as well, and he had redness on his chest,” Kat Delancy said.

She took him to his pediatrician on a Friday, and doctors said he was fine.

Still, that night, Kat Delancy says she felt something was wrong, so she brought Ronan to Yale New Haven.

“As soon as I walked into the hospital, he stopped breathing,” she said.

Shortly after, Ronan started having seizures.

“Once they started seeing the seizures, they had to put him under sedation,” Kat Delancy said.

Doctors couldn’t figure out what was going on with Ronan. It wasn’t until his fourth day in the hospital that his parents got some answers.

“The more testing that they did, they ended up finding this thing called parechovirus, which we had never heard of, and it sounded like a lot of the doctors had never heard of it either,” Kat Delancy said.

“It was explained to us at the hospital that it’s extremely rare to find, but it might not be that rare because they don’t ever really look for it,” Mitch Delancy said.

Yale New Haven Health recently sent out a newsletter alerting other physicians about the virus, saying it “may be underdiagnosed due to lack of awareness.”

“A lot of children have no symptoms or very mild symptoms,” said Dr. Ian Michelo, Connecticut Children’s Head of Infectious Diseases.

Michelo says he’s seen a spike in cases.

“I’m hearing through emails and other social media alerts that there is, particularly right now since the beginning of May, there are an increasing number of cases,” he said.

He says most children will just suffer a fever but, in some cases, it could cause severe brain damage.

Unfortunately, Ronan had a severe case. His brain was badly damaged, and he couldn’t be saved.

“I’ll never forget the doctor kneeling down and saying to me, as I was in shock, saying, ‘You have a very sick baby,’” Kat Delancy said. “Going from the best days of our lives to having our child die in our arms.”

Now, the Delancy family is hoping to warn other parents and push pediatricians to test for this disease more frequently.

“My big reason for wanting to talk about it is I want Ronan to have a legacy. I would love that. I want his name - I want to keep that alive. I don’t want another family to go through this,” Kat Delancy said.

Doctors say preventing parechovirus is like any other virus: make sure to keep your hands clean and stay away from anyone who’s not feeling well.

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