A mother is sharing her story after a dangerous misdiagnosis nearly led to her daughter’s death. Now, she’s warning other parents to stay vigilant and trust their instincts.
Gabriella Bondi, 8, appeared to be suffering from severe dry skin, according to her mother, Christine Bondi-Cerrato. The Colorado mom originally believed her daughter was having an allergic reaction once Gabriella’s rash started to worsen, and she took her in for an examination right away.
According to Bondi-Cerrato, the little girl’s pediatrician confirmed the allergy theory, diagnosing the rash as a reaction to a nut. The doctor prescribed Benadryl and sent the pair home.
They hoped that was the end of the ordeal, but sadly it was just the beginning.
By that evening, the 8-year-old had broken out in painful splotches covering her face, arms and legs.
“She just kept getting progressively sicker and showing new symptoms,” Bondi-Cerrato told The Western Journal. She added that Gabriella had started with puffy eyes and eventually developed lesions on her face and chest. She looked “like her entire body had been sunburned,” the mom said.
“In a matter of mere hours, her whole body was covered in a red rash that was red and painful,” Bondi-Cerrato told Caters News Agency, according to the Mirror. “Within another 24 hours, Gabby was clawing at her skin and screaming.”
“We tried to keep her comfortable throughout the night but by the next afternoon, it was clear that the rashes, swelling, and lesions were getting worse and not better.”
Gabriella’s mother couldn’t believe that this was the result of a simple food allergy. Determined to help her daughter, she took her back to the hospital where a second round of investigating led doctors to diagnose her with scarlet fever. They again sent her home without medication.
By the next day, Bondi-Cerrato was in a panic. The symptoms were no better and her daughter was clearly in danger.
“Her mental status totally changed. She went from being clearly uncomfortable to sobbing just hysterically and trembling,” she told The Western Journal.
After returning to the doctor a third time, Gabriella was finally transferred to a children’s hospital to be treated, though the family was still waiting on a diagnosis.
“Knowing whatever our Gabby had was potentially devastating and life changing left us so scared,” Bondi-Cerrato said.
When the answer finally came, the worried mom was stunned. Gabriella had potentially fatal toxic shock syndrome. TSS, defined by the Mayo Clinic as “a rare, life-threatening complication of certain types of bacterial infections,” had been behind the rash all along.
According to Gabriella’s doctors, her TSS had stemmed from a mild impetigo infection.
“We never even would have thought for a second it could turn into something so life threatening or devastating,” Bondi-Cerrato said. “I’d only ever heard of TSS as something that came from women using tampons.”
Now, the mother is warning other parents to be on the lookout for symptoms of TSS, which in addition to a rash can also cause fever, headaches, and redness in the eyes, mouth and throat.
Bondi-Cerrato also encouraged parents to trust their instincts if they believe something may be seriously wrong and to be willing to stand up for their children when no one else will.
“Getting misdiagnosed time after time after time was just so hard and we felt so alone in trying to figure out what was happening to her,” she said.
“If we had waited much longer, the results could have been catastrophic.”
“Do NOT accept the doctors word as completely infallible. They are human beings who get things wrong, and it’s ok to get a second opinion, or a third opinion if you think the diagnosis doesn’t feel right and the prescribed treatment isn’t working,” Bondi-Cerrato told the Western Journal.
“If we had just accepted the food allergy diagnosis and not kept going back, Gabby probably wouldn’t be with us today,” she told Caters News Agency, according to the Mirror.
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