A mother from Ontario, Canada is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for her family today after a Facebook photo of her 5-week-old daughter Brielle went viral. Meghan Mcnutt-Anderson's daughter contracted pertussis, commonly known as whooping cough, a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs and airways that is especially dangerous in infants. In serious cases, it can cause vomiting, weight loss, pneumonia, convulsions, brain damage, and even death.
Understandably beside herself upon learning of her child's diagnosis, Mcnutt-Anderson took to the social media site last week to post a photo of Brielle and update friends and family on the emotional situation. But she also ended up sending a warning to parents who choose not to vaccinate their children ...
Along with the above image, Mcnutt-Anderson wrote:
This is why you immunize your children! We have spent the last 3 days in the hospital at her bedside holding her up and patting her back as she coughs. You see, every time she coughs she stops breathing, turns blue and goes limp. She has too much mucous and her airways are too small to cough it up and they become blocked and we have to manually help her pass it. We will likely be doing this to Brielle for the next 2 weeks at least.
Heartbreaking. And while speaking out about vaccination as Mcnutt-Anderson did could be seen as controversial, she says that spurring debate was never her intention. She tells us exclusively:
I realize that a picture of a sick baby is not pleasant to see, but sometimes pictures speak louder than words when it comes to showing the severity of a situation. ... My main goal was to share our experience with immediate family and friends and have them share it with a few of their friends, so that diseases like pertussis can be avoided. ... I really just want people to see that these things can be avoided, they happen to real people, and worst of all, they impact babies and people with compromised immune systems the most.
And although Mcnutt-Anderson has encountered her fair share of "alternate opinions, some of which of have been kind ... and others that have been extremely rude" in response to her post, she says most of the feedback is "positive," elaborating:
A lot of stories about people who have had children with whooping cough, as well as children with cancer who can't receive vaccines and rely on the people around them to be vaccinated.
It's wonderful to hear she's gotten so much encouragement, which can only serve to support her case.
But as she said, this isn't about verbal sparring -- who's right, and who's wrong, who's supportive, and who's not. For Mcnutt-Anderson, it's about what she had previously pointed out in her Facebook post ... that perhaps her story will cause parents who are considering skipping vaccination to "think first about the people you put at risk who CAN’T get the immunization." Because their change of heart could save lives.
What's your reaction to Mcnutt-Anderson's post about Brielle?
Images via ArmyMedicine/Flickr & Meghan Mcnutt-Anderson