Second Oologah Meningitis Fatality Identified
By Emory Bryan and Tara Vreeland, The News on 6
OOLOGAH, OK -- The families of the Oologah school children who died, and who remain hospitalized with meningitis, say the symptoms appeared suddenly and quickly overwhelmed the children.
According to the state medical examiner's office, the 8-year-old girl who died Thursday is Shuache Moua. She was a second grader in the Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary School. Her family says they're surprised by how suddenly it happened.
"It just happened so quick, from nowhere. I was shocked when my wife called me and said, 'she passed away.' Because I just seen her last Saturday or Sunday. They were playing soccer, indoors and outdoors, she normal," said Xiong Moua, Shuache's uncle.
Angela Thomas, the mother of 7-year-old Andrew Thomas, says her son was fine when he left on the school bus Wednesday morning. By 1 p.m. he had developed a high fever that was noticed in gym class. He died at 6:30 a.m. Thursday.
"He was just an awesome little boy and I'm going to miss him, miss him every day," said Christie Wolf, Andrew Thomas' aunt.
Wolf is the aunt of the first child who died with meningitis, 7-year-old Andrew Thomas.
"Andrew went to school Wednesday perfectly fine, healthy. Mother got a phone call 1:00 p.m. from the nurse that Andrew was running a fever, had a stiff neck and that his feet hurt. And she came and picked him up and took him home. And they didn't mention anything about him needing to see a doctor or anything. So she just took him home and treated him like he was coming down with the flu," said Wolf.
Andrew was a 2nd grader at Oologah, with a birthday coming up. On Friday, his family planned his funeral for Monday, and struggled to deal with the shock of a death so unexpected.
"We just hope by Andrew's death everybody else, these other children, can get taken care of," said Wolf.
Andrew's family grieves for the other families. They too were holding out hope in those last hours.
"We didn't think Andrew was going to die either. We were under the impression he was going to the hospital, Life Flight, maybe he would be there a week, but he would come home, and I guess we just had no idea, it went that fast," said Wolf.
A bank account has been set up to help the Thomas family at IBC Bank branches.
Thomas' family says Andrew's funeral is set for 2 p.m. Monday at the Owasso Church of Christ. The public viewing is 3-6 p.m. Sunday at the Dolton Funeral Home in Collinsville.
His aunt says Andrew often had colds, but did not have any other problems.
Four other students at Oologah-Talala Lower Elementary School remain hospitalized.
The family of 6-year-old Jeremiah Mitchell says the kindergartner is clinging to life. Friday morning, doctors told them he has a 25 percent chance of survival and would need amputations if he does survive. Mitchell's aunt said the illness had turned his skin black, and he would need skin grafts as well.
His grandmother, Carolyn Mitchell, says he is in critical condition in a medically induced coma.
Mitchell says her grandson didn't show any signs of illness when he went to school Wednesday morning. But by lunch, he was sent to the nurse's office with a low grade fever.
"Just like a cold. It was just like a cold, just had a fever. At that time there was no nausea, no diarrhea, no body aches, just a fever," said Mitchell.
Jeremiah's mother followed instructions to treat the fever, but Jeremiah's condition became worse. By 4:00 Thursday morning, the boy was on a Life Flight helicopter to Saint Francis.
"When you hook a small child up to an IV and blood pressure cups, they don't know what this pressure and restraint is about, so it's very scary," said Mitchell.
Mitchell says she's shocked at how rapidly the disease invaded her grandson's little body. She says right now he is unrecognizable.
"The worst bruise that you can imagine. He's just totally purple. All the blood's to the surface, exploded vessels," said Mitchell.
She says Jeremiah is sedated and isn't suffering, but the family is completely distraught.
"We're just devastated. It's just horrific. There is just no end to the fear of what's coming next, because there is more to come," said Mitchell.
A child, fighting for his life, with his family by his side left only to turn to their faith for comfort.
"Jeremiah's existence is a miracle in and of itself. His mother had leukemia as a small child and should have never conceived. The Lord saved her. The Lord created him and the Lord can save him now. And that's in our prayers and I hope that's in everyone's prayers, not just for our grandchild but for any child, anyone that may be affected by this," said Mitchell.
The News On 6 spoke with Mitchell again Friday night and she says the quarantine has been lifted. She also said Jeremiah's blood pressure has been steady Friday afternoon and he has been given liquid food.
She says she will stay at the hospital as long as her grandson is there.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health phone bank will be open Saturday, March 13th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to provide information to the public regarding cases of meningococcal disease in the Oologah-Talala elementary school. Callers can dial toll-free 1-866-278-7134.