4-Year-Old Dies After Skipping the Flu Shot & Her Dad 'Feels Like He Failed'

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A Texas family is mourning after a young child died from flu complications. But through their grief, her family is speaking out to help raise awareness for her potentially preventable death. Four-year-old Ashanti Grinage from Garland, Texas, died just days after getting sick and her family has since revealed that the child did not receive her flu shot this year and wasn't tested for pneumonia as symptoms progressed. 

  • On January 29, Ashanti spiked a fever, so her worried mom took her to the hospital.

    Ashanti's fever reached 103 degrees when she was brought to the hospital, according to Fox 13. She had cold-like symptoms.

    She was diagnosed with influenza A during her emergency room visit and doctors reportedly recommended over-the-counter medicine to keep her fever down. However, she wasn't tested for pneumonia, which can be a flu complication that has similar symptoms, including a high fever, headache, cough, and weakness. 

    "My wife called me and said that Ashanti had a high fever, and that she's taking her to the emergency room because she might have the flu," her dad, Martel Grinage, told WFAA.

    But after that first visit, Martel said that Ashanti seemed to be doing better with her fever going down and only her cough hanging on. "She wasn’t even running fever at this time, we just knew she was very sluggish and she wasn’t eating,” Martel told Fox 13.

    But that's because something crucial was missed during that hospital trip. "On Tuesday when she went to the doctor, she had pneumonia, and we didn't know," he told WFAA

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  • Two days later, Ashanti's mom was concerned about how lethargic she was and that she was coughing up mucus.

    She took her daughter back to the hospital a second time. When they arrived on Thursday, the girl's vitals were reportedly extremely low.

    “When I think about my baby, that tears me down, man. That’s what I was living for,” he told CBS DFW. “I told her I wasn’t gonna let nothing bad happen to her. I used to preach that to her.”

    Martel told WFAA that by the time he arrived, it was nearly too late. Doctors were desperately trying to bring the child back to life. "The doctors told me when I got there, that her lungs were full of pneumonia and that they did the best that they could do," he said. "I told myself when she hears my voice -- I know she's getting up ... I was just praying ... waiting for her to wake up. They were just pumping and pumping, and my daughter never got off that table. I never even got to say goodbye." 

  • Just two days after her symptoms started, Ashanti died at Texas Health Presbyterian from flu-related complications.

    According to health officials, Ashanti is the seventh to die from flu-related complications this season and she's the first child to die from influenza in Dallas County. 

    Looking back, Martel wishes he asked doctors to test Ashanti for pneumonia as soon as he realized they hadn't tested her. "If I even thought that a little bit that she was going to die, I wouldn't have let her," he said. "I'm almost 30, and I'm about to bury my 4-year-old daughter."

    Martel also said that it's the clarity from hindsight that's tearing him up. "I'm mad at myself. I'm mad at everyone. I'm mad at the hospital. I'm mad at God. I can't lie to you," he told ABC 13. "See, I feel like I failed ... She was only 4, but that was my best friend."

  • Now, he's hoping to raise awareness to protect other families from this suffering.

    "I just want to save someone else's kid because they don't want this feeling," he said. 

    Dr. Christopher Perkins, who is a medical director of the Dallas County Health and Human Services is pleading with parents to take this tragic story seriously. “We cannot predict the intensity, severity, or duration of the flu season from year to year,” he told CBS DFW. “The best way to protect yourself and others is to get your seasonal flu shot.”