A Greater Vancouver Island mom is urging parents to trust their instincts when it comes to their children’s health after her five-month-old daughter was hospitalized with a serious, life-threatening infection.
On Nov. 12 Taylor and Garrett Dougan had just returned from a family trip in Vancouver when they noticed their five-month-old daughter Nova was showing signs of what they originally thought was teething. They kept an eye on Nova, whose health began to take a turn for the worse.
Nova started vomiting and hadn’t eaten in 13 hours. She was jaundiced and was in a “sleep-like coma,” according to her mom Taylor Dougan.
“She started to look like she was dying,” Dougan said.
They took Nova to the doctor, who said she had gastroenteritis – inflammation of the stomach and intestines, or the stomach flu – and the family was told to go home and wait it out. But Dougan said Nova’s health only declined after that. Her symptoms didn’t change and she began to have seizures.
Dougan called her husband and the pair rushed their daughter to the emergency department at Victoria General Hospital where they found out she had meningococcal meningitis – a serious infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
According to the World Health Organization, the infection is associated with high fatality – up to 50 per cent when left untreated. Dougan said the doctor told her this is the first case of meningitis they’ve had in the last three years, and the chances of survival were extremely low for Nova. They were told to prepare for the worst and that the first 12 to 48 hours would be crucial.
Dougan had to explain what was happening to her six-year-old daughter, who she said was having a difficult time with everything.
“It was just awful, she’s having a hard time dealing with all of this,” Dougan said.
Nova made it past the 12 to 48 hour window and the family has been told she will survive, however the five-month-old is now at extremely high risk for brain damage.
Dougan describes Nova to be a happy, outgoing and social baby who just started crawling before she fell ill. Now the family is worried that progress may be lost.
“We may have lost our old Nova,” Dougan said.
Doctors have told the family the recovery could take years. They’re still running tests to ensure the infection is gone as Nova continues to have fevers.
But the family is holding out hope, calling her a “miracle” to begin with since Dougan had to take fertility drugs just to conceive Nova.
While Dougan has been on maternity leave, her husband – who works for Victoria Construction Ltd. – has had to take time off work to be by his family’s side.
Other mothers in the community have set up GoFundMe pages to help the family out with other expenses so they can focus on their daughter.
Although it is yet to be determined what Nova’s future will look like, Dougan said she is relieved her daughter is alive and urges parents to trust their instincts and not hesitate to take their children to the hospital if they are worried about their health.