Remembering Eva Ackerman

By: Malorie Maddox, Christian Champoux, Wayne Martino Email
By: Malorie Maddox, Christian Champoux, Wayne Martino Email

Baby Eva Ackerman came into this world bright eyed, strong, and healthy. Two weeks after going home, she came down with meningitis. She never got to come back home.

"Her name means life giving and I think she gave us so much life and so many experiences." said Elizabeth Ackerman

Her name was Eva. She came into this world on December 9th. Her parents, Pat and Elizabeth, loved every minute of the few weeks they had with her at home.

"We saw her smile, we got bath time. We saw her scoot herself across her mat. We got to hold her, feed her..." said Elizabeth.

It was Christmas Day, a few weeks after Eva was born, that this family's world would change forever.

"She started to get sick and we had taken her to Urgent Care earlier that day and she was fine."

Six hours later, Eva still didn't seem right. She was fussy. Her parent's instincts told them to take her to the emergency room. They were right.

"She was diagnosed with late onset group b strep, meningitis." said Elizabeth.

Eva was taken to Children's Hospital and Medical Center. She never got to come back home.

Ackerman Family

Pat said, "She got sick on Christmas and then New Year's Eve she passed away and the first was our anniversary. So that was a really hard time for us."

It has been eight months since Eva's death. The Ackerman's say there are still signs of her all over the home

"I don't think the sadness ever goes away." said Pat.

"Her bedroom door has stayed close. I don't go in there often."

Her parents are sharing Eva's journey in hopes it will raise awareness about Meningitis. They also want to send this message to parents. If you think something is wrong with your baby, take them to the hospital.

"It happened so quickly with Eva. We felt we should go to the emergency room even though it was something so small." said Elizabeth.

And because they acted quickly, it gave them more moments with their beautiful baby girl.

"We were still able to spend time with much more time with her than we would have had we not responded the way we did." said Elizabeth.

The Ackermans are hosting a walk to honor Eva and raise money for the Meningitis Foundation of America.

Eva's Life-Giving Memorial Walk
What: Eva’s Life-Giving Memorial Walk

When: Saturday, August 23rd at 2:00pm

Where: 151 Freedom Park Road, Omaha, NE 68102

Why: To honor Eva and support the MFA (Meningitis Foundation of America)

We have put a link to register for the walk above.

We also contacted Children's Hospital. They gave us this list of symptoms for parents to look out for:

The symptoms of meningitis vary depending on the organism that is causing the infection. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

In infants (symptoms may be difficult to pinpoint):

  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Poor feeding
  • High-pitched cry
  • Arching back
  • Cries when picked up or being held
  • Inconsolable crying
  • Bulging fontanelle (soft spot on an infant's head)
  • Noticeably different temperament
  • A purple-red splotchy rash

In children older than one year:

  • Neck and/or back pain
  • Headache
  • Sleepiness
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Refusing to eat
  • Decreased level of consciousness
  • Seizures
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck stiffness
  • A purple-red splotchy rash

Q&A With Children's Hospital & Medical Center
1. What are meningitis symptoms in infants?
  • Temperature instability: temperature can be either low or high
  • Neurologic findings: irritability, lethargy, poor tone, tremors or twitching, and seizures
  • Poor feeding/vomiting
  • Respiratory distress (breathing fast, grunting, flaring of the nares)
  • Full or bulging fontanelle (soft spot)

2. About how many infant meningitis cases does Children's (or our community) see annually?

  • At Children's Hospital & Medical Center we see about 40 cases a year of neonatal meningitis. This encompasses all those that are confirmed bacterial or viral, and those where it is suspected but the infant received antibiotic therapy before the spinal tap was able to be completed and therefore the culture may be falsely negative.

3. What is the greater prevalence (not local)?

  • In the US the incidence of bacterial neonatal meningitis is between 0.25 and 0.32 per 1000 live births

4. Anything else parents should know?

  • Any infant less than 1 month old who has fever (≥100.4), not waking to feed, becoming irritable/lethargic needs to be seen by a physician who will evaluate the infant to rule-out meningitis. As part of this evaluation the infant will have a lumbar puncture (spinal tap), blood and urine cultures obtained and be started on empiric treatment while awaiting the results of these test. This evaluation is most expedited in an ER setting as these patients will be admitted to the hospital.
  • Most common bacterial organisms in < 1 month: Group B Streptococcus and Escherichia coli
  • Most common viral pathogens in < 1 month: Herpes simplex virus and Enterovirus
  • All pregnant women should be screened at 35 to 37 weeks' gestation for vaginal and rectal Group B Streptococcus colonization. If the screen is positive they will receive antibiotics at the time of delivery.

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