Eastern Iowa girl who lost her sight from the flu regains vision

Published: Mar. 6, 2020 at 2:30 PM CST
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The family of an Eastern Iowa girl who lost her sight because of the flu is still working through all that happened in the past couple of months. Jade DeLucia made national news headlines over the winter when complications from a severe case of Influenza B caused her to go blind.

Jade is a typical four-year-old girl, likes the color purple, unicorns, puppies, and can be a little sassy. A few weeks ago though, it was entirely different. In the days before Christmas, Jade’s mom, Amanda Phillips, knew little Jade had a cold.

“She was still running around and playing with her sister, so I didn't really think too much of it,” Phillips said.

But by morning, Jade was unresponsive. Her parents rushed her to the ER, where she was life-flighted to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

“For about four hours it was really rough, we weren't really sure if we were going to lose her there, they actually had to have two crash carts in there,” Phillips recalled.

After several weeks in the hospital recovering, Jade made progress.

But a complication from the flu caused her to lose her sight.

“Her pupils were basically the size of her entire eye, and she just had a blank look on her face,” Phillips said.

University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital Dr. Theresa Czech met Jade when she was on full life support in the pediatric ICU.

“She had a condition called acute necrotizing encephalopathy, secondary to influenza B,” said Czech.

“At that point, the neurologist was pretty honest with us, and we're not really sure what this is going to be long term, what's going to happen,” Phillips said. “That was a really hard day.”

After each low point though, Jade would bounce back. A few weeks after leaving the hospital, she regained her sight.

“She was following people around, she was giving high fives, and it was awesome,” Phillips said. “It was so cool she was able to see again, it was the best thing.”

At a recent checkup, Czech saw Jade’s transformation from a critically ill four-year-old patient, to a regular four-year-old at her check-up.

“She's such a bright, cheerful girl who's full of love, and I'm really happy that she's made a good recovery,” Czech said.

Jade and her family are hopeful for a healthy future for little Jade and are looking forward to being able to celebrate Christmas that Jade can see for herself.

“It will be a little bit more joyous since we have jade again,” Phillips said. “I think it will be a really good Christmas this year.”

Jade has an appointment with an eye specialist to find out what's next in her healing process. Czech said as Jade starts kindergarten, doctors will continue to monitor her development.