10-year-old Aurora girl fights back after nearly dying from flu

AURORA, Colo. -- A 10-year-old Aurora girl is so sick with flu and pneumonia that she is in the hospital and needs a machine to breathe.

Keyona Richardson has been in the pediatric ICU at Children’s Hospital Colorado since Wednesday night.

Her mother, Kristie Richardson, said it happened quickly.

“Wednesday, the school called and said that she had a fever. I picked her up and took her to an emergency room and she was diagnosed with pneumonia,” she said.

They went home, but Wednesday night, Richardson took her daughter back to the emergency room.

"I didn't feel comfortable with the way that she was breathing,” Richardson said.

Keyona was admitted, and by the next morning, her left lung collapsed. Not long after that , her right lung was in trouble too.

“The nurse told me, she said your daughter is as sick as she could possibly be without passing away at this very moment, but we’re going to do all we can to fix it,” said Corey Richardson, Keyona’s father.

Keyona was put on an ECMO machine.

“It is life support. It acts as an artificial lung,” Richardson said.

It was touch and go for a while, but things are now looking up, and her parents are hopeful.

But they want to warn other parents. Don’t wait to contact a doctor if your child is really sick.

“Had we waited we wouldn't have my daughter,” Kristie Richardson said. “I never knew the flu could do this.”

“I think this is just a really potent reminder of just how devastating influenza can be," Dr. Suchitra Rao at Children’s Hospital Colorado said.

“Flu is severe. There’s a lot more hospitalizations now than we have seen in the past. For example, in Colorado hospitalizations are up 227 percent. So just in our hospital alone we’ve seen over 300 children admitted for flu."

She adds that people should stay home if they are sick, and get a flu shot if they haven’t already.

At this point in the season, doctors are seeing more influenza B, and the vaccine is supposed to be a closer match for that strain.

A website has been set up to help the family.