When Francesca Marie McNally was born, she was the perfect baby.
“Perfectly healthy. Beautiful. Very interactive,” describes her dad, Sean McNally.
He and his wife Veronica were in love with their little girl. Just before she turned three months old, she started coughing.
“We saw four doctors,” said Veronica.
“None of the doctors we were seeing, and there were so many, really knew what it was,” said Sean.
After not getting answers from their pediatrician's office and local emergency rooms, they took their baby to Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.
Doctors there immediately recognized how serious the situation was. She was rushed into intensive care. She did not make it.
“It is with me every day. I think about her every day. I feel that loss every day,” said Veronica.
Doctors found out too late that Francesca had whooping cough and they also found out how she caught it.
“I had whooping cough. I don’t know where I got it from. I look back and wish that I would have known more about the way I could have protected myself and my family,” said Veronica.
Babies cannot be vaccinated against whooping cough, but doctors recommend those who care for them are.
Veronica says she asked why she wasn’t told this during her pregnancy. According to medical records, on the day of her delivery, a nurse offered her the Tdap shot, which is the whooping cough vaccine.
She says on that stressful day, she doesn’t remember it at all. She feels certain she wasn’t told what it was for.
“I left the hospital without getting that vaccine, and I, of course, then got whooping cough,” said Veronica. “I remember sitting in a rocking chair and rocking her and loving on her and I look back thinking that was the time in which I was passing on this disease to her.”
Now, this couple has teamed up with the state on a project to raise awareness.
They helped build the iVaccinate.org website where parents can find scientific information and learn about vaccines.
“It is tough when you make decisions that you think you are the right decision for your family and it is the wrong decision,” said Sean.
“Vaccines save lives and we are honored to work on her (Francesca’s) behalf to protect other children,” said Veronica.