The Death of Colin, Pamela and Kevin Durkin’s Infant Son

By Pamela and Kevin Durkin

We never knew that our newborn son, Colin, was exposed to pertussis [whooping cough]. He never showed signs of the classic “whoop,” for which the disease is named. But something was definitely wrong. After visiting our family’s pediatrician in December 2002, we were immediately referred to the local emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a stomach virus. Two nights later, he began severe vomiting so we took him back to the hospital.

After numerous respiratory tests, spinal tests, and chest X-rays, he was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia. Over the next 24 hours, Colin’s breathing became more and more labored and he developed a gagging cough. As his condition grew worse, Colin was intubated and transported to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where he was put on life support. Finally, on his second day on life support, Colin was diagnosed with pertussis. Colin was our fourth child, and we never even realized he could contract pertussis and didn’t understand its dangers. He was born a healthy, beautiful 7-lb. baby, whose life was suffocated out of him long before he would have taken his first step.

Colin died December 14, 2002, at seven weeks of age. Our lives, the lives of his siblings and extended family will never be the same. We could not be more devastated or bewildered about the events we encountered the week Colin died. We didn’t know about pertussis until it was too late. Colin’s experience has brought us closer as a family and compelled us to share our story. We encourage everyone to learn all they can about this disease; and how it affects adolescents, adults, and especially unimmunized infants and young children.

We never had the chance to immunize Colin as he was still too young, but an ounce of prevention could go a long way in saving your child’s life …

This statement is reprinted here with permission of NAPNAP, the copyright holder.

Disclaimer: and publish personal testimonies to make them available for our readers’ review. Please note that information in the testimonies may be outdated and may not reflect the current immunization schedule or recommendations. (Published: 5/25/2005)

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