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Urgent Care & ER

Avaya's story

Avaya was a healthy 3-year-old when she got what seemed to be a cold in January of 2018. She had a fever and a cough, but nothing alarming until the fourth day, when her fever spiked and she was having some trouble breathing.

Her mom, Anita, took her the next morning to the local walk-in clinic in Sheboygan, where she tested positive for influenza B. They left with a prescription for Tamiflu, but the local pharmacy was out.

At home, just four hours later, Avaya fell asleep and became unresponsive. “It was so scary,” Anita said. “Avaya’s eyes were rolling back in her head, and we knew she was in trouble.” Anita and Cedric took her to the local Sheboygan ER, where the doctors decided to call Flight for Life to transport Avaya to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. But with the rain and sleet, the helicopter couldn’t fly. In its place, the Children’s Transport ambulance brought Avaya to Milwaukee.

Avaya was admitted directly to the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). She showed improvement the next day and was moved to an acute care floor. But within hours, her color had changed and she was fighting to breathe. Her left lung had collapsed.

It was a life-threatening situation, and the doctors and nurses responded quickly. Avaya was intubated and returned to the PICU, where she was put into a medically induced coma so that her body could rest while the virus cleared. A few days later, her lung collapsed again.

“Her complications were so severe, we didn’t know if she was going to make it,” Anita said. “There was a period when she was the sickest child in the PICU.”

After several weeks in the PICU, Avaya was finally able to breathe on her own again. She was moved to an acute care floor to continue her recovery and began physical therapy to regain her strength and mobility. She went home on Valentine’s Day, after spending a month in the hospital.

Physical therapist Marisa Halbur with Avaya, just after she gained enough strength to walk for the first time during her recovery in our PICU.

Avaya is the youngest of six siblings, but Anita had never needed Children’s before for any of her kids. “There is no doubt that Children’s saved her life,” Anita said. “The staff were phenomenal—capable, kind and passionate—and they listened to me as a mom.”

And their support went beyond delivering the best clinical care. Child Life staff guided Avaya’s siblings through the tough experience of visiting their sister and seeing her hooked up to machines and tubes.

After leaving the hospital, Avaya did great, but her lungs would need up to a year to fully heal. She continued her recovery with physical therapy. “The staff at Children’s went above and beyond” Anita said. “They became like family.”

How you can help families and children like Avaya

Every day children like Avaya visit Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. It's through the generous support of people like you that we can continue to provide them with the best care possible. Do your part, donate today! If you would like to speak with someone in the foundation about ways you can help, please call us at (414) 266-6100.

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