The parents of a newborn baby who died just eight days after her May 2018 birth are warning others about the potential dangers of allowing family and friends to touch and kiss infants. Abigail Rose Friend, who said her daughter Aliza Rose was born healthy but later contracted herpes virus likely through the kiss of an infected person, has taken to Facebook to share her family’s tragedy.
“I’m never going to stop sharing the gut wrenching, heartbreaking, soul shattering story of our sweet Aliza Rose,” Friend, of Maryland, posted on Facebook. “She was 8 days old when she passed away. She was born a happy healthy almost 9lb[sic] baby. She was healthy for a day and half [SIC] before the HSV-1 virus attached to her spine and ate her lungs and brain.”
HSV-1 typically causes cold sores or small blisters on the mouth, eye or lips, which can lead to severe infections or even death in newborns due to their undeveloped immune systems. According to the New York State Department of Health, about 70 percent of U.S. adults are infected with HSV-1 and can shed virus in their saliva at any time, even if they don’t show symptoms. The virus can be transferred to newborns from close contact with someone who is shedding HSV-1 or has an active outbreak.
Infected newborns may first experience low-grade fever, poor feeding or skin blisters. The symptoms can quickly escalate to high fever, seizures or death. Treatment for infected newborns requires immediate hospitalization and 21 days of antiviral medication, which may not prevent death or brain damage.
The New York State Department of health recommends washing hands before touching newborns, and not allowing individuals with cold sores to kiss babies.
Friend, 19, echoed that advice in her post, claiming that “someone touched her without washing their hands or kissed her face while being a carrier of the virus.”
“Please help us save more babies lives by sharing our story and NOT kissing babies,” she wrote. “WASH YOE [SIC] HANDS. DO NOT KISS THE BABIES.”
Friend said that she thinks about her daughter every day and that she hopes their tragedy can help bring awareness to people about newborn care. She said she didn’t know about the HSV-1 virus until it struck her daughter.
“You don’t want something like this to happen,” she said, according to The Sun. “It’s awful. I just want people to be aware that this is a very real threat to children.”
“Some family and a few close friends came to visit her when she was born.
“There's no way to ever know who gave it to her because it's such a common virus. It could have been anybody. It could have been a doctor for all I know.”
When Aliza was born she was a happy, healthy baby, Abigail recalled.
But within days her condition deteriorated in front of her distraught mum’s eyes and she was left hooked up to so many machines Abigail threw up at the sight.
“She was having trouble breathing and they had to put her on oxygen and eventually she was on so many machines and tubes that you couldn't even tell she was a baby,” she said.
Doctors claimed the illness was so rare it was practically a “fluke” that Aliza had contracted it, and assured Abigail and her partner Tyler Hensley, 26, that there was hope their little girl would pull through.
Aliza was in such agonising pain that she was sedated to keep her comfortable.
The combination of medications left her with seizures and soon she was being monitored using an EEG machine as well as a dialysis machine and equipment to keep her breathing.
The little girl was eventually declared brain dead after the virus “ate away her brain”, and Abigail sang You Are My Sunshine to her daughter as she passed away on May 20.