4-year-old who lost vision after rare complication from flu regains her eyesight

Posted at 6:17 AM, Mar 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 06:17:38-04

A 4-year-old girl has gained her eyesight back after losing it to a rare complication from the flu, CBS News says family members announced this week.

Jade DeLucia contracted the flu late last year. According to CBS news, she survived the virus, but a rare complicating infection was attacking her brain.

While Jade was able to leave the hospital, Dr. Alex Bassuk, the physician who treated her, told CBS News in January it was hard to tell if she would regain her sight.

Jade's mother Amanda Phillips, said, "She's started to talk a lot more, so it's awesome to see her personality come back," she told CBS News in January.

Phillips started a Facebook page to provide family and friends with updates on Jade's health. Phillips' mom, Courtney Frey, took over posting in the group on March 6 so Phillips could take a break, she told CBS News.

On Monday, Frey posted an important update: "Jade's sight has fully returned! The miracles continue for her!!!"

Frey also wrote that Jade is still showing signs of brain damage and "She is not the great independent conversationalist who knows her numbers and letters, but we are continuing to believe and hope in her full recovery." Frey added that "some days are better than others" in the healing process.

On March 1, Phillips shared with the group what caused Jade's loss of vision. She suffered from acute necrotizing encephalopathy (ANE) type 1, also known as susceptibility to infection-induced acute encephalopathy 3 or IIAE3.

ANE is a is a rare type of brain disease that occurs following a viral infection such as the flu, according to the NIH National Library of Medicine.

"We put our daughter to bed and she never woke up the same," Phillips wrote. "I will never forget holding her heavy body against mine in the shower with her eyes in the back of her head or the days that turned to weeks hoping for a miracle."

Phillips also said Jade is getting a genetic test done to see if she is susceptible to this happening again if she gets sick.

The girl's story also sparked renewed calls for children to get the flu vaccine. Jade got a flu shot last March, but did not get one for the current season, which began in the fall of 2019.

"The key point in this case is that it has to happen every season," Bassuk said. "The vaccine is not once-in-a-lifetime vaccine," he said. "It doesn't last a year."

The flu has killed 20,000 Americans this season, including 136 children, the CDC says.