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UPDATED: Iowa Baby Dies From Illness Caused by a Kiss

[UPDATED 7/18] It’s with great sadness I have to tell you that Mariana has passed away. Her mom, Nicole, confirmed the news on her Facebook page this morning, with this message:

♡ Our princess Mariana Reese Sifrit gained her angel wings at 8:41 am this morning in her daddy’s arms and her mommy right beside her. She is now no longer suffering and is with the Lord. Thank you to everyone who has followed her journey and supported us through this. In her 18 days of life she made a huge impact on the world and we hope with Mariana’s Story we save numerous newborns life. R.I.P. sweet angel ♡

[Original story] July 1, Nicole gave birth to a baby girl named Mariana. Six days later, she married Shane Sifrit. However, there would be no honeymoon. Approximately two hours after the ceremony, their world was turned upside down.

Shane told WQAD,

Friday, we noticed she stopped eating and wasn’t waking up when we were trying to get her to respond.”

The couple left their wedding and took Mariana to a children’s hospital in Des Moines. It was there that doctors told them she had a very serious virus, caused by herpes. Mariana had contracted Meningitis HSV-1 and just as shocking was how it happened. Doctors believe it was caused by a kiss from someone who likely didn’t even know they had herpes, a virus that many people carry with no outward signs, according to UW Health. Her parents both tested negative.

Mom, Nicole, explains what doctors told them:

They touch her, and then she touches her mouth with her hand. That’s why doctors say diseases spread quickly in babies. Keep your babies isolated, don’t let just anyone come visit them, and make sure they are constantly washing their hands. Don’t let people kiss your baby, and make sure they ask before they pick up your baby.”

Nicole and Shane say that Mariana got worse almost immediately after being put into intensive care, “Within two hours she had quit breathing and all of her organs just started to fail.”

This week, the now 15-day-old baby was airlifted to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital where Nicole says Mariana is “on life support to help her by right now.”

Mariana is expected to have continuing health problems because of the effects the virus has already had on her body. She’s likely to be in the hospital for at least another 30 days, and everyone knows that timeline could be much longer.

Her parents both say what we’ve heard so many times over the 20 years we’ve done our KHAK Radiothon for Children’s Miracle Network and the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital:

I always thought this stuff happens, and it’s a shame. I never thought it would happen to me and I was not prepared at all.”

This year’s Radiothon is August 17 and 18 from the new hospital in Iowa City. Please consider donating those days to help babies like Mariana, who is fighting for her life in that very hospital this morning. If you would, please join us in saying a prayer for her and her entire family.

[WQAD and UW Health]

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