Prototype drug saves local girl's life after flu nearly kills her

10News granted unprecedented access to ICU

SAN DIEGO - A 12-year-old girl was struck with an extreme case of the flu that nearly killed her.

Now, the local girl has no sign of it, thanks to a drug currently in the research stages at Rady Children's Hospital.

Covered in a warm pink blanket with her mom and a fluffy pink stuffed elephant by her side, Kaitlyn Parmiter is just on the other side of the flu that nearly killed her.

“One of the hardest things I've ever had to go through,” Kaitlyn’s mom Lindsay told 10News.

She says Kaitlyn was a healthy girl before she contracted a "B" strain of the flu in late January.

“She got so sick so quickly that she ended up being comatose in the morning. Her parents couldn't even wake her up,” said Dr. John Bradley.

Once at Rady Children's Hospital, doctors learned she had never been vaccinated and was also developing diabetes.

“Her blood sugar was almost 1,000. Normally it's about 150 or so,” said Dr. Bradley.

Kaitlyn was placed on a breathing machine.

Her mother told 10News, “I knew that she was so close to death.”

To make matters worse, Kaitlyn was unable to take in any oral flu fighting medications.

“You don't know if your daughter is gonna make it and that's just not easy,” said Kaitlyn’s father Jason Parmiter.

Rady Children's Hospital happens to be one of about a dozen hospitals around the country and the only one in the county studying this intravenous form of Zanamivir.

The drug, not currently FDA approved, has been proven through hospital case studies to be extremely effective fighting extreme pediatric flu cases.

Dr. Bradley told 10News, “It prevents the spread of virus from one infected cell to another.”

With her parent's consent, an IV with the drug was started.

Her dad says, “There was no other choice we had.”

Three days later, she awoke. Her flu was nearly gone.

“The first thing she said is I want a mango. That was unbelievable! It was almost like her being born again!” said Kaitlyn’s dad.

On the fifth and final day of treatment, there was no sign of influenza.

Dr.  Bradley called it a miracle.

Kaitlyn's mom calls the hospital staff, her angels, and says “Now that she is awake and talking all of these days are so precious to us you know, because we could have lost her.”

 Dr. Bradley says the emergency room at Rady's is seeing upwards of 250 flu patients a day.

He says that is 30 to 40 percent more than it saw before the influenza epidemic hit.

Dr. Bradley told 10News this is the first time in his 25 year career at Rady Children’s Hospital that he has granted media access to the intensive care unit.

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