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Please Pray for My Infant Niece

Friends, please join me in praying for Maria, my 8 month old niece who was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis yesterday. What follows is a note I just received from my brother-in-law, a pastor in Michigan:

Friends & Family,

I know that many of you have already received bits and pieces of information. I wanted to get a note out to summarize. We greatly appreciate your prayers and compassionate concern for our family.

We took our 8 month old daughter Maria to the hospital Friday morning with what they have now diagnosed as bacterial meningitis. The ER doctors did a great job with diagnosing it quickly. At that point, Maria was quite lethargic and didn’t seem to notice when they did a spinal tap. That, in itself, was a great concern to the doctors.

They administered steroids right away to reduce swelling in the brain and they immediately started several different IV antibiotics. They should know the exact strain later today but they have already been able to start using more focused antibiotics for the specific bacteria that she has. She was more restless last night and the doctors felt that this was a good sign – indicating that she was more “with it” than she had been on Friday.

They have warned us that she will likely be hospitalized for 10-14 days. They are giving her such large doses of antibiotic and they can only do that effectively through the IV. One the key things now is tracking any damage that has been done because of the pressure on her brain and spinal cord. It is not unusual in such cases for there to be profound hearing loss and even neurological deficit.

In all this, we are confident that God is good. I reminded of Job’s words, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10b). Thanks for standing with us in prayer.

In Christ,



5 Responses

  1. We’ll be praying!

  2. Chris,

    We’ll be praying.

    In Christ,

    Frank Sansone

  3. Thanks for your help praying for this need. Here’s an update from Jeff:

    There was new information yesterday morning that had indicated that the bacteria had spread to the bloodstream. This certainly sounded serious to us. But as we talked more with the infectious disease doctor throughout the day, he assured us that this was not an additional concern. Most of the time, such bacteria begins in the blood and works its way to the brain and spinal fluid. He was actually somewhat surprised that the bacteria was not present in the blood when she was first admitted on Friday. There was also some initial speculation that there was a second strain of bacteria present (this would have been highly unusual). But the infectious disease doctor assured us that this was not the case. Under the microscope, this particular type of bacteria can appear as tall and thin rods or as short, compressed rods. But it is the same bacteria and she is on the right antibiotic. There were also concerns about her sodium level which related to how much water she was retaining (and the corresponding pressure on her brain). But this has since evened out. So the day was a bit of a roller coaster for us. But by the end of the day, the doctors concurred that she is “on the trajectory that they would like to see.”

    She was awake quite a bit yesterday. Anna, Johnny and Abby came up to see her and she focused on each of them and reached out to them. But she is quite miserable. Every move is an effort. We haven’t seen any smiles yet. She has been nursing but, until late yesterday, was having trouble keeping things down. One of the doctors indicated that we were now entering the somewhat tedious part of the process. Much of the urgency is gone. Now there is the process of waiting. And the more alert Maria is, the more miserable she will likely become. I’m sure it will be some time before we know anything about potential hearing loss or other side effects.

    Part of the confusion over the last few days is that this particular strain (graham rod negative F) is rare. It is not the more common “hib” form that is covered with vaccinations. It is uncommon for this particular form of influenza to have penetrated the barrier to the brain/spinal cord. There have been some recent studies done that would suggest that a good percentage of kids who get “non-hib” meningitis have some type of immune deficiency. So they will probably do some testing on her in the future. (For all the medical personnel out there, please excuse my inexact terminology J)

    Thanks so much for your prayers. We have received countless e-mails and acts of compassionate kindness. I am reminded of the words of Psalm 18:2, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Money, possessions, loved ones and even our health can be taken from us in an instant. We are staggered by this threat to young Maria’s life. But we are told that “death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2b). It is our confidence in God and his provision of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ that gives us confidence beyond the grave.

    Thanks so much for your ongoing prayers and concern for us.

    Jeff (for the family)

  4. Another update:

    Dear Friends & Family,

    Our church family has been amazing and we have been overwhelmed with phone messages and e-mails from all over the world (many are people that we have never met) reassuring us of their prayers for Maria.

    In general her progress is good. She has been holding things down over the last 24 hours. This has allowed them to give her some oral ibuprofen. Previously, they had been giving Tylenol but the ibuprofen also serves as an anti-inflammatory and it seems that this has helped to ease her discomfort (particularly in the neck area). A doctor from our church, stopped in to see her and he got a half-smile. That was a first.

    They did another spinal tap today and the fluid was clear. This means that the antibiotic is working and the bacteria is being eradicated from her body. She had hardly recovered from the spinal tap when they came in for her daily bloodwork (ouch). And then the nurse came in to inform Sheri that they were probably going to have to replace her IV line. As Sheri was holding Maria for the spinal tap, she had a good view of her open mouth (because she was screaming hysterically). She happened to notice 2 brand new teeth (her first) that had poked through. So in the midst of everything else, she had been teething. When it rains, it pours!

    In the midst of so much suffering, I found myself contemplating Romans 8:18. Paul writes, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” All of creation groans because of the effects of sin in the world. But when God establishes his kingdom of peace on the new earth, it will far outweigh the sufferings that we have endured. The further we get down this journey of suffering, the more we realize how amazing God’s eternal kingdom will be.

    In Christ,

    Jeff (for the family)

  5. […] on Maria Several people have asked how my niece Maria is doing following her bout with bacterial meningitis.  I apologize for not posting an update […]

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