A Connecticut couple is living the worst possible parenting nightmare. Christy Pugh and David Splan’s daughter, Emma, passed away after experiencing myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart that inhibits its ability to pump. Her death is being labeled as a result of flu symptoms after doctors say the flu virus was found in the little girl’s heart.
The couple now wants to raise awareness regarding pediatric flu. Emma was given a flu shot mere months prior to illness.
“It makes no sense. She was vaccinated. She died. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did,” Pugh, of Norwalk, Connecticut, tells PEOPLE, who published a spread over the family’s tragedy.
“We did everything right. Every one of her doctors did everything right.”
Emma’s saga began on February 13th when she came home from school with a mild fever and runny nose. She was immediately diagnosed with flu after seeing her pediatrician. She was not administered Tamiflu due to a “shortage.”
Emma’s symptoms improved for three days, then made a drastic turn for the worse.
“She really wasn’t that sick … then Friday night we went to bed and at about 12:30 a.m. she woke up and started throwing up,” Pugh recalls, noting that she and Splan thought the “random” throwing up may have been food poisoning.
“On Saturday she kept throwing up so we took her back to the doctor. They gave us anti-nausea medicine. But when we went back home she kept throwing up and I thought, ‘Something’s not right,’ ” Pugh tells PEOPLE.
Christy Pugh took her daughter to Stamford Hospital’s pediatric emergency department. Upon arrival, Emma’s situation deteriorated immensely.
“We got up to Yale, she’s talking and sitting up. She looked so much better. My husband and I gave her hugs and kisses and were telling her that when we leave we’re gonna do all this fun stuff,” Pugh says, adding that she believed Emma would be okay.
“Then she coughed and she died. We didn’t know what was going on. They started doing CPR. My husband and I were in the room watching the whole thing. They called it, and that was it. She was gone. The whole thing was beyond horrible. It was horrific. It took us hours to leave the room. We were just sobbing and pleading with the doctors to please try anything else.”
The Pughs remain staunch supporters of the flu shot, according to Christy, who claims the family simply wasn’t lucky this time.
“A lot of people wonder why we’re recommending the flu shot even though it didn’t work for us. But every time you get in a car you still get a seat belt. Why not stack the deck in your favor. Losing a child is the worst and I don’t want anybody else to feel like they could’ve done something more to save their child. We did everything right. We just weren’t lucky.”
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