Share on Pinterest“Top Chef Junior” host Vanessa Lachey is on a mission to raise awareness about the dangers RSV can pose and the increased risk babies face during cold and flu season. Getty Images
- RSV is a highly contagious seasonal virus contracted by almost every single baby by the age of 2.
- RSV leads to 16 times more hospitalizations than the flu in infants younger than 1 year old.
- Severe cases of RSV are the leading cause of hospitalizations for babies during their first year of life.
Vanessa and Nick Lachey packed up their family of five and set off to Ohio to celebrate Nick’s grandma’s 90th birthday.
“You don’t miss that. We wanted to be there to celebrate with her and have her love on her great-grandkids,” Vanessa Lachey told Healthline.
However, when they got to Ohio, their son, Phoenix, who was 1 year old at the time, began acting ill.
“Even though he was a preemie, he was always so full of life and so happy, but he got really lethargic,” Lachey said.
After discovering he had a temperature, she gave him over-the-counter medication. When his temperature didn’t lower after a few days, she called Phoenix’s doctor, who suggested Lachey take him to a local pediatrician.
“I took him to the doctor there and I asked her specifically, ‘Do you think this is RSV?’ I had heard those letters, but didn’t know what it was,” Lachey said.
After listening to Phoenix’s breathing, the doctor believed he was fine.
The Lacheys had plans to fly to the Bahamas to continue their trip, so after seeing the pediatrician, they got on the plane.
“If I had known it was a virus you could swab for… if I had educated myself to ask more questions, I feel like I would have been more prepared,” Lachey said.
When they arrived in the Bahamas, Phoenix’s breathing worsened. He remained lethargic, and his lips began turning blue.
The Lacheys immediately visited a doctor. He said he didn’t have the capability to test for RSV, but still gave them medicine for his symptoms.
Despite taking the medicine, Phoenix showed no signs of improvement.
The following morning, Vanessa told Nick they needed to head home.
“There were no flights out, and so we found a plane and salvaged every penny we could to get back to the United States to get proper healthcare,” Lachey said.
As soon as they arrived, the Lacheys took Phoenix to an urgent care facility, where he was immediately diagnosed with RSV and admitted to the hospital for 6 days. He received oxygen treatments hourly.
“His little body had to fight, and it had gone on for so long. Those were the hardest 6 days, next to him being born prematurely and being in the NICU. Seeing him in the PICU a year later was pretty traumatic for not only me but my family and husband, and trying to explain it our other kids,” Lachey said.
Phoenix fully recovered from RSV after his hospital stay and is thriving as a toddler. But Lachey’s frightening experience has inspired her to warn other parents about the dangers…