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Sep-10-2014 07:53printcomments

4-Year Old Lincoln City Girl Dies After Being Diagnosed with E. Coli

The girl's friend is still fighting for his life. Health officials are trying to discover the cause of the infection.

Serena Profitt
4-year old Serena Profitt lost her battle against an E. coli infection this week.

(SALEM, Ore.) - Little Serena Faith Profitt died Monday night at Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland from an infection caused by a strain of E. coli. Serena was four years old.

Her five-year-old friend, Brad Sutton, from Washington is undergoing treatment Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma, Wash. where he was listed in critical condition early Tuesday evening.

The infection may have been contracted sometime just before Labor Day weekend; Serena's symptoms of E. coli infection first appeared around Aug. 29 with bouts of diarrhea.

The two kids reportedly shared a turkey sandwich at a restaurant in Lincoln City, where they may have picked up the E. coli. They also played in a pond and a river in the Lebanon area with other children, and they may have been exposed to the bacteria elsewhere.

Serena Profitt

The family said the one thing those two children did that none of the other kids did was share a sandwich at this particular restaurant.

The restaurant has not yet been named. Health authorities aren’t yet ready to point a finger at the restaurant or any other specific source, said Dr. Paul Cieslak, director of the state health department’s Acute and Communicable Disease Prevention unit.

Serena's Fight for Life

Serena was taken to the hospital in Lincoln City, OR, on Sept. 3 after four days of diarrhea that eventually turned bloody.

Her uncle, Travis Profitt said that the hospital staff claimed to have run an E. coli test among several other tests, but they did not detect the bacteria.

When the illness continued days later, Serena’s parents took her to a pediatrician and then to another hospital in McMinnville, Oregon, she went into kidney failure. The staff immediately suspected a severe E. coli infection and moved her to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, where she was diagnosed.

She was placed on dialysis upon arrival at Doernbecher on Saturday, Sept. 6. Family was told she might be in the hospital for a possibility of 3 weeks to 3 months, until her kidneys were able to fully function.

Around 4 or 5 p.m. the next day, she had a minor stroke. Doctors ordered an experimental drug to be delivered by air, but it didn’t come in time.

At 4 a.m. on Monday, Serena suffered a massive stroke and was pronounced braindead. Her family agreed to have her taken off life support hours later.

Serena was a "bright light", said her uncle, Travis Profitt. "Serena is a little girl full of a lot of energy, she's probably one of the smartest four-year-olds you're ever gonna meet in your life. A little blue-eyed, blond-haired firecracker."

The family's pastor, Brian Robbins, was with them when Serena died.

"They're a family of faith, so that's a source of strength for them, but as anyone would be, they're really hurting right now," he said.

Serena's family lives in Otis, just outside Lincoln City. They set up a Go Fund Me page to help with medical expenses, and now are accepting donations to help with the funeral for Serena.

Brad is at Extreme Risk

Brad and his mom

Friend Brad is being monitored closely. His kidneys were not functioning properly on Tuesday, according to Serena's aunt Alisha Hargitt, and his parents were also warned of possible strokes that could start any time.

Brad is currently on dialysis, and his infection has been confirmed as E. coli O157:H7, the strain most commonly known for producing shiga toxin, the cause of E. coli-related medical complications.

Profitt said parents need to hold the medical community accountable to better test for bacteria like E. coli, and that his niece might still be alive if the cause of her illness had been detected sooner.

“This should remind parents that this isn’t a joke,” he said.

The state of Oregon has connected 20 deaths to E. coli since 1992, according to a state health department spokesman.

Symptoms of E. coli include bloody diarrhea, lethargy and severe cramping.

Experts from Oregon Public Health said there was no one treatment against E. coli, and it's possible antibiotics may increase the risk of further health problems. The illness often lasts between two and 10 days.

Brad's mother, Elizabeth Sutton has a positive outlook. "He’s doing better now."

"His levels for his kidneys are coming up, which is good so he’s doing better right now, but he’s not out of the woods," she said.

Prayers for 5-year old Brad continue.

Sources: Food Safety News, KATU, family friends

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