Parents hope tragedy averts swine flu deaths


POSTED: Thursday, November 26, 2009

Max Neves and his 3-year-old son Joshua were playing and laughing in the backyard of their Kaimuki home on June 17. Two days later, his “;completely healthy boy”; died in intensive care.

Swine flu caused his lungs to bleed, the city Medical Examiner's Office told the boy's mother, Erica Neves.

Their son is one of 11 Hawaii victims of swine flu since May 5. All the others are adults and all except Joshua and one adult had underlying conditions.

The Neveses, with 18-month-old Makayla, told Joshua's story at a news conference yesterday to urge parents to get their children vaccinated for H1N1 flu.

;[Preview]  Local parents talk about losing son to H1N1 complications

Parents from Kaimuki who lost their son to complications of the H1N1 flu urge people to get the vaccination.

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“;Everything happened so quickly,”; said Erica Neves, former tourism director at Ala Moana Center. “;One day he's playing. The next day he has fever. Then he's in intensive care and he's gone. It happened just that fast.”;

Joshua's family celebrated his third birthday May 31 with memories they cherish of “;a great day full of laughter and fun”; and a chocolate Spider-Man cake.

She said Joshua had a doctor's appointment on June 18 to get a TB shot to prepare for preschool. He had a 101-degree temperature when he woke up and the doctor said to bring him in, she said.

He had some chicken noodle soup and orange juice and pushed himself from the table, saying, “;All pau, Mama,”; she said.

;  Joshua, who loved to pretend he was Spider-Man, gave his mom a hug and went to nap in the living room, she said. As he was sleeping, she noticed his skin color paled and tried to wake him, but he was unresponsive.

She called 911 and performed CPR until paramedics arrived and rushed him to the emergency room of Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

Max Neves, project manager with Akamai Roofing Inc., was coming off a roof in Kailua when he was informed that his son was being rushed to the hospital.

The boy was in the pediatric intensive care unit a little more than 24 hours before he died.

“;My daughter already got her shots and my son would have gotten his — had vaccine been available — and maybe I could still be playing with my son in the backyard,”; he said.

Erica said it took nearly three months to determine the cause of Joshua's death via an autopsy and confirmed toxicology results.

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the state Health Department's Disease Outbreak Division, said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a special test on the boy's lung tissue.

With flu season just starting, vaccination is a layer of protection that will help young children and the community, Erica Neves said.

“;If no more families have to worry about their kids ending up in the hospital or in intensive care, it would be worth it to share Joshua's story,”; she said.

Dr. Michael Sia, Joshua's pediatrician at Kapiolani, said the boy wasn't sick at all until hit by H1N1.

Sia is encouraging vaccinations, but said he was on a wait list two months for seasonal flu vaccine and has only a limited supply of H1N1 for kids 6 months to 35 months old.

Theresa Bae, 25, with her 9-month-old daughter Lexie, was among parents showing up in Sia's office yesterday with infants to get H1N1 shots. Lexie made a face but not a sound as the needle went in.

Bae said her brother's girlfriend at Oregon State University had swine flu with a 103-degree fever.

“;I got scared,”; she said. “;I don't want my baby to get sick.”;