WINNIPEG -- A local mother is urging parents to make sure their kids get vaccinated after her daughter was admitted to the ICU at the Children's Hospital for complications from the flu, including fluid build-up around her heart.

Belleenda Henderson said her two-year-old daughter Bella has been in the ICU since Feb. 23, after she originally had a bit of a runny nose and a cough.

Henderson said it all started while visiting family on Feb. 15, and they noticed the young girl wasn't feeling well.

She said her daughter got some rest, but wasn't getting better and started to have a bit of a fever. At that point she called the doctor.

"I called the doctor to come to our house and to check us out, and the doctor had said it looks like that I had the influenza and that the kids had bronchitis, and maybe a little bit of fluid in their ears," said Henderson.

She said the doctor prescribed her two kids amoxicillin. Henderson was fine with the diagnosis but noticed the next day her daughter's eyes were puffy, and she eventually took Bella to another walk-in clinic to determine the cause.

The doctor told her it might be pink eye, but Henderson said she didn't agree and eventually took her home.

"I did have something important to do at work, so I left her home with her dad for a couple of hours while I had to attend to something," Henderson said. "When I came back, I noticed that her eyes were even worse."

She said seeing her eyes that bad was alarming and at that point decided to take Bella to the emergency room.

Henderson said the doctor wanted to rule out renal failure and any problems with Bella's kidneys. After running some tests, the doctor determined Bella had some type of influenza and encouraged Henderson to keep the two-year-old on amoxicillin, but also gave her a prescription for cephalexin in case the amoxicillin stopped working.

They went home early the next morning and after a few hours of sleep Henderson noticed Bella's eyes weren't getting any better. She decided to go to the Seven Oaks emergency room.

The doctors there told her the puffiness was just a complication of her sickness and to just give her time to recover.

She said after looking after her for the day she noticed Bella started to look better and it seemed like the medication was working.

But that was short-lived -- other symptoms began to worsen and she once again called the doctor.

"He wasn't comfortable with her just being on amoxicillin, and he also provided us another prescription for cephalexin," she said. "At that point, I thought, you know what, maybe the amoxicillin just isn't strong enough."

Henderson gave Bella a dose of the cephalexin and a Tylenol.

Later that evening Henderson felt like the medication wasn't working and became worried, so she once again took Bella to the emergency room to get to the bottom of the sickness.

Henderson said doctors ran more tests on her and determined she had become much worse since her last visit to the emergency room and decided to admit her.

"They kind of just had her hooked up to watch all her vitals, gave her some antibiotics and administering to her. And you know, it was just kind of a waiting game."

Henderson said it seemed like Bella was starting to settle and then all of a sudden her breathing stopped.

"They kicked me out of the room, and then 10 people started working on her saying she had stopped breathing and that they needed to figure out why."

Bella was taken down to the ICU and had a breathing tube inserted. The doctors also told her Bella had a lot of fluid build-up around her heart and they had to drain it.

Henderson said they determined she had Influenza A and also suffered complications from the sickness, adding the fluid build-up is myocarditis.

She said, for now, the situation is just a waiting game.


Henderson said she hadn't got the flu shot for Bella and wishes she did now.

"Now I'm kicking myself for it.

“I was always a mother who thought you know, it does more harm than good, I guess based on misinformation and miseducation, with other parents and parents groups and stuff like that, and I really don't feel like I made a conscious and educated decision to not vaccinate her with a flu shot."

She said she will now always tell parents to vaccinate their kids as she feels the complications caused by the flu can be much worse.

"I had no idea before this happened, and if I knew that a flu shot might have prevented that, then I definitely would have done it for myself and my family," Henderson said while fighting back tears.

She also said other parents shouldn't be afraid of taking their kids multiple times to visit the doctor as she feels her constant visits prevented the situation from being worse than it already is.


According to the province’s latest flu report, 20 people have died from the flu between September 2019 and Feb. 15. It also says there’s been 673 laboratory-confirmed cases of Influenza A, and 643 cases of Influenza B. In this same time period, 274 people were hospitalized due to influenza, with 27 being admitted to the ICU.