Tragedy has struck a California family after their 12-year-old daughter died following a misdiagnosis of common flu. After Alyssa Alcaraz was sent home from school with symptoms of cold and flu, her parents decided to take her to the local Kaweah Delta Urgent Care in Visalia, California so doctors could assess her.
Medical professionals said she was suffering from influenza and recommended she take ibuprofen and cough syrup. She was also prescribed with anti-nausea medication to ease her vomiting. Her mother, Keila Lino, said that at this point there appeared nothing to be concerned about.
“She was very healthy, and just out of nowhere she got sick,” Lino told PEOPLE. “She’s been sick with the cold and flu before, so it was just one of those things that didn’t seem like anything new to us.”
Alyssa’s older sister Mariah Alcaraz told KFSN: “I remember she came home from school and she was throwing up and I thought ”oh she’s probably got food poisoning she’s going to be okay.'”
But as Alyssa’s health condition deteriorated, her parents were becoming increasingly concerned for her wellbeing. It wasn’t long before she began to have difficulty breathing. “It was just so rapid,” Lino recalled. “Everything was just so sudden.” Her parents rushed her to the emergency room, where doctors discovered that her oxygen levels were dangerously low. She was in a critical condition.
Shortly afterward, Alyssa went into cardiac arrest and died on December 17th.
Doctors informed the parents that their daughter had succumbed to septic shock after a strep blood infection made its way into her bloodstream. The doctor’s initial diagnosis of flu was incorrect, leaving the parents feeling bewildered and angry.
“I was shocked, it was just mixed emotions. I thought finding out what it was would offer come closure of some kind,” Lino explained to PEOPLE. “Once we found out what it was, I was just shocked that something so simple took my baby.”
Strep can be treated with antibiotics and often clears up without trouble. But it appears as if doctors did spend enough time investigating Alyssa’s condition. “I was angry, all they needed to do was some blood work and an antibiotic and she would have been fine,” said Jeremy Alcaraz, Alyssa’s father. “This wouldn’t have happened.”
Every year, some 1.5 million Americans suffer from sepsis, which leads to around 250,000 deaths.
Just a few days before her passing, Alyssa was bouncing and happy; a reminder of how quickly your health can take a turn for the worse. “She was very outgoing, she was the clown in the family. She was always happy, always singing in the car, in the house, just a really bubbly girl,” her mom explained.
“Alyssa was smart, you never saw her in a bad mood, you never had to be on top of her about doing her chores or homework. She was just a joyful little girl.”
Despite these happy memories, the excruciating pain of losing a daughter is weighing heavy on the grieving parents.
“We take it day by day, it’s hard, everything about her we miss. I cry every day, just random times,” Lino admitted. “I remember things she would do or say, or just driving around town—the memories are just hard. I’m just trying to stay strong for the other three that we have.”
The family are still yet to receive an official response from the medical center that misdiagnosed their now deceased daughter. Father Jeremy is contemplating hiring a lawyer to urge the hospital to change its procedures so that this never happens again.
“I want parents to push doctors to do more testing,” Jeremy explained. “Nobody knows their children better than parents. You know your child better than anyone.”
“They’re just acting like nothing happened. She was only 12 years old, she had a long life to live, who knows what she could have been when she grew up?” Jeremy says. “We don’t know, and we’ll never know now.”
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Extended family members have set up a GoFundMe campaign.
“On Sunday, December 17th 2017 my cousin Jeremy lost his 12 year old precious daughter, Alyssa Joyce Alcaraz . Alyssa was a beautiful loving 12 year old that went too soon to be with the Lord. We are in urgent need for funds due to the funeral home needing the money as soon as possible,” the page reads.
The funds will go toward the Alcaraz family. My cousin Jeremy is a father of three other babies and is not working at this time & wants to desperately bury his baby girl and not resort to cremation. No father should have to go through this alone so your help would be greatly appreciated. Alyssa deserves for all her family and friends that love her to have a chance to say goodbye and have a burial site to always go visit and remember the memories.”
Messages of support and faith have been pouring in on the page.
“I have 3 little kids and I would be devastated. May God bless this beautiful little girl! Sending prayers and strength!” one person wrote. “May God give you the strength needed during this difficult time. I am so sorry for your loss….prayers,” added another.
“I cannot find the words that adequately express the sorrow my heart aches for your family in this time of grief,” one person commented. “I pray your pain will subside with the knowledge your beloved daughter has taken her place as a princess in the light of our Heavenly Father,” another added.
“Let us all speak the peace, comfort, and healing power of our Lord and Savior Jesus upon the family in our prayers.”
Do pray for the family as they come to terms with this tragic loss.