A heartbroken mother has pleaded with parents to immunise their children after her little girl died from measles.
Little Nadja Petrovic, two, was diagnosed with autoimmune polyendocrine syndrome type 1, also known as Whitaker syndrome, which gave her issues with her internal organs after she turned one.
Her mother, Serbian woman Dragana Petrovic, contacted Perth-based not-for-profit organisation Light for Riley to share Nadja’s story.
The namesake of Light for Riley is West Australian baby Riley Hughes, who died in 2015 from whooping cough. The organisation raises awareness for parents to immunise their kids.
Ms Petrovic told Yahoo7 since her little girl turned one in 2016 she had been in and out of hospital “a few times a week”.
The 23-year-old added due to Nadja’s illness she could not get common vaccines like MMR – an immunisation against mumps, measles and rubella.
But despite this, her mother said Nadja still managed to live a normal life.
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“She was playful, energetic,” Ms Petrovic said.
“She jumped all day played with her older sister (Anastasija). The disease that she had wasn’t life-threatening.”
It was not until earlier this year Ms Petrovic’s world turned “upside down”.
The mum-of-two and little Nadja were admitted to the intensive care and isolation unit on January 6 but could not get a room of their own.
“They (medical staff) admitted a boy into our room,” the 23-year-old said.
“He was nine months old.”
It was three days later Ms Petrovic found out the baby boy was infected with the measles and on January 12 Nadja became sick with the disease too.
“By the time we were transferred to another floor it was too late,” she said.
“My world collapsed; I knew that she would get it but in the depths of my soul I hoped she wouldn’t.”
Ms Petrovic said she was angry with doctors who made a mistake and believed the boy did not have the measles.
Nadja’s condition got worse and on January 12, in the words of her mother, the little girl “drowned in a dream from which she never woke up”.
Nadja’s struggle for life would last almost three months. She began to suffer from lung and respiratory problems until her left lung ruptured. She also had sepsis.
Finally on March 4, Nadja’s heart stopped and she died.
Her heartbroken mother said Nadja was “full of life”.
“She smiled always and barely cried,” Ms Petrovic said.
The 23-year-old said Anastasija, four, took her little sister’s death “very hard”.
“She wants her sister,” she said.
“She wants her to be alive. She dreams about her and cries in her sleep. They were like twins and she just can’t live without her.
“She isn’t the same child anymore.”
Ms Petrovic said she contacted Light for Riley for support and to get her message out.
“When I saw (Riley’s story) it was the most similar story to Nadja’s that I have read in these two months from when she passed away,” she said.
Serbia has seen a measles outbreak, according to the US’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Twelve people have died between October last year and March this year from measles in Serbia, according Serbian news site, the Telegraf.
Now Ms Petrovic said parents “must immunise their children” to protect vulnerable kids like Nadja and Riley.
“They can’t let their children die from preventable diseases,” she said.
“There are many kids like Riley and Nadja.
“Every day is harder. We miss her so much.”