A respiratory virus and an infection with a common bacteria should never have forced little Jackson to stay 56 nights in intensive care and have his foot amputated last year. His severe symptoms still leave his doctors in disbelief, but the boy jumps and runs as if nothing had happened.
• To read also: The resurgence of the respiratory syncytial virus
"When I look at him today, so active and so intelligent, it's almost unimaginable to remember what state he was in. But I remember every second, I will never forget”, breathes Celia Rodrigues, who was afraid of losing her son Jackson in September 2021.
A little over a year after his hospitalization at the Montreal Children's Hospital, his three-year-old boy came to himself "times 10" rejoices his mother. However, the Vaudreuil-Dorion family is still followed, particularly in immunology and genetics, to try to elucidate the seriousness of the events.
Ms Rodrigues at first thought he was suffering from a nasty cold and she left a medical clinic with a cough remedy. However, her condition deteriorated, says the 35-year-old woman.
Jackson was not eating, he had a wet cough and was struggling to breathe. Soon, a visit to the emergency room was in order.
Already in the car, her son became lethargic. Unable to stand when they arrived, Jackson was taken care of right away.
“It became very intense, very quickly,” recalls Ms. Rodrigues.
He was intubated. Doctors then believed that by supplying his lungs with oxygen, in addition to antibiotics, he would get better. They had determined that Jackson had respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
But nothing to do, Jackson's body let go. "The lungs, then the heart, all its organs stopped one after the other," says his mother.
A swarm of doctors and nurses now buzzed by his bedside. “They saved his life that night,” remarks the mother.
Her son had just fallen into toxic shock, following an infection with staphylococcus aureus. This is a fairly common bacterium, which can be found on the skin and mucous membranes, causing generally mild infections.
“He should never have been so sick. Neither with RSV nor with the infection, explains Celia Rodrigues. It is unknown if it is the combination of the two or even what started first. »
And the family was not at the end of its troubles. In the days following his hospitalization, his body was having difficulty circulating oxygen and blood to his extremities, so that Jackson's toes took on an eerie black color.
"I didn't care about his feet anymore. I just hoped he would wake up one day and be able to say my name,” his mother fondly recalls.
At the same time, tests revealed scars on his lungs and brain damage that suggested the worst. “It was too much, too much information. Too many doctors coming in and out,” she says.
After 56 nights in intensive care, Jackson could finally go home where another challenge awaited him. He had to learn to walk again, this time with a prosthesis following the amputation of his right foot.
"It was hard to see him being unable to do things he used to do," says his mother, but her resilient boy pulled it off with flying colors.
◼ A blood infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus.
◼ Affected at the same time by a respiratory syncytial virus
The toxic shock experienced by young Jackson at the Montreal Children's Hospital last year was "one of the most serious" ever managed by doctor Samara Zavalkoff.
“I was afraid that he would not survive his first night [in intensive care]”, confides the intensivist, who has worked for more than 15 years with children.
She sees them every year in septic shock following an infection. More rarely, Staphylococcus aureus can cause severe infections or organ failure, she explains. The bacteria can be found frequently on the skin, but it causes infections if it gets into the blood or a wound.
But the seriousness of the ailments that struck the boy from Vaudreuil-Dorion remains a question mark for the medical specialist.
She spent the whole night at Jackson's bedside, seeing his heart beating too fast and his blood pressure dropping, for example.
" Nightmare "
She remembers the “nightmare” of that first night, where as soon as something improved, another problem appeared. “Some symptoms were related to toxic shock, but others not directly. That’s why it was stressful,” says Dr. Zavalkoff.
A brain biopsy was even done, when the medical team feared the worst. But since then, all tests seeking to detect a potential immune disorder have returned to normal.
If the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which Jackson suffered from, could have weakened his immune system, Samara Zavalkoff wants to reassure parents with children who also caught it this fall. The consequences are never so serious.
The doctor, who continues to follow Jackson, is delighted to see the personality of her patient, since he is doing well. "He's a boy who will do whatever he wants," she says.