It had been two long weeks, and little Scarlett’s cold showed no signs of budging. So her mother decided to ignore her doctors’ advice and go straight to the ER. And when she arrived, the nurses’ reactions proved that she had been completely right to worry.
Kande Hein and her family live in Harker Heights, Texas. Hein’s husband, Owen, is in the military and is based out of Fort Hood. And together the couple have three children: Cooper, Spencer and Scarlett.
Their youngest child, Scarlett, was born at the end of 2015 via a cesarean section. At the time, Hein’s husband was stationed in the Middle East. Needless to say, then, the mom had her hands full.
Not only was Hein readjusting to life with a newborn, but little Scarlett also soon became sick. Indeed, she had been suffering from what seemed like a common cold for two weeks. But after two trips to a doctor, Hein was reassured that everything was okay.
However, Scarlett’s condition didn’t appear to be improving at all, and Hein discovered that her baby had a super high temperature. That’s when Hein’s motherly instinct kicked in, and she decided to take matters into her own hands.
“On the Sunday after Christmas I just noticed a few things that were a little different,” Hein explained in a YouTube video from Baylor Scott & White Health. “She was a little bit more lethargic, she didn’t want to eat as much, she was really tired [and] seemed like she was breathing hard. I just felt like something else was going on.”
However, when Hein got Scarlett to Fort Hood hospital, she discovered that the pediatric units were at capacity. So an ambulance transferred the baby to McLane Children’s Scott & White Hospital in Temple, TX. Once there, doctors took the infant into the critical care unit.
At first, medical experts believed that Scarlett was suffering from bronchiolitis. But tests soon discovered that a respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was responsible for her symptoms. And from the hospital staff’s reactions, Hein knew that her baby’s condition was serious.
RSV is a common illness that can cause cold-like symptoms in adults. However, the virus can be very serious for young babies like Scarlett. Cases of RSV in this age group can often lead to severe breathing difficulties.
The illness is quite hard to treat, as it is resistant to antibiotics. In adults, the infection will often pass without any treatment being necessary. However, children as young as Scarlett may require oxygen, an IV and even a ventilator to help them battle the infection.
In rare cases, RSV can also cause lung failure and pneumonia. So all Hein could do now was watch on helplessly as her tiny daughter fought her illness. “This 13-day rollercoaster afterwards has just been the hardest 13 [days] of my life,” the mother said.
Scarlett’s condition was considered so serious that hospital staff worked with the military to fly Hein’s husband home. Within 48 hours, then, the dad was back by his wife and daughter’s side. “He didn’t even go home. He went straight from the airplane,” an emotional Hein later revealed.
Fortunately, Scarlett began to get better from that moment on. And after ten long days in the hospital, her doctors finally discharged the baby. The experience, though, continued to have a profound affect on Hein.
Following her family’s agonizing experience, the mom-of-three dedicated herself to raising awareness of the signs and symptoms of RSV. Speaking of her experience with the illness, Hein told Baylor Scott & White Health, “The cold that [Scarlett] had for two-and-a-half weeks and RSV were two separate instances. The scary thing is that the cold almost masked those RSV symptoms because it seemed like her cold was just getting a little bit worse.”
“The things to watch out for as a mom for RSV is that labored breathing,” Hein added. “So it’s the retractions, the sucking in beneath the ribs [and] the flaring of the nostrils. [If a child has these symptoms] just take them into the ER as quickly as you can because it is such a quick and aggressive virus.”
Hein was so grateful for the doctors and nurses at McLane’s that she said they have become a part of her life. “There are some that I’m friends with on Facebook and I think we’ll be friends forever,” she told the Temple Daily Telegram in 2016. “We went through a lot together.”
In fact, Hein was so thankful for the hospital’s support that she returned just a few weeks later. This time she brought toys and care packages for families about to go through a similar experience as her. And there was one weary mother whose baby had just been diagnosed with RSV who really caught Hein’s attention.
“I knew what she was about to go through. Her feet were going to be sore from standing at her baby’s bedside, she was going to forget to eat and she was going to cry a lot,” Hein told the Temple Daily Telegram. “I probably cried more during those three weeks than I have in the last five years.”
And Hein’s kind gesture was appreciated by those at the hospital. “We get very attached to the parents of the children we take care of and it’s rewarding to see parents gung-ho to help others,” nurse Paige Pollard told the Temple Daily Telegram. She also said that parents and children alike appreciated Hein’s thoughtfulness.
Two weeks after her awful ordeal, little Scarlett was almost back to normal. Today, she is a happy, smiley little girl who displays no lasting effects from her illness. By sharing their family’s story, Hein hopes that no other parents will ever have to endure the same experience.