At less than a month old, Iowa baby Mariana Sifrit has died just 10 days after she was hospitalized on her parents' wedding day with an unexpected illness that may have been caused by contact with someone who had a cold sore.
"Our princess Mariana Reese Sifrit gained her angel wings at 8:41 am this morning in her daddy's arms and her mommy right besides her," her mother Nicole Sifrit wrote on Facebook Tuesday.
Mariana had been fighting for her life over the last few weeks after being rushed to the hospital earlier this month.
"In her 18 days of life she made a huge impact on the world and we hope with Mariana's Story we save numerous newborns life," Sifrit wrote.
Mariana Sifrit was born on July 1, but less than a week later, the infant was being rushed to the hospital for what would become a life-threatening infection her parents never anticipated.
Nicole and Shane Sifrit, of West Des Moines, said they noticed their daughter wasn’t eating and wasn’t waking up.
The couple quickly left their own wedding to rush Mariana to the hospital, where they discovered she had Meningitis HSV1, or meningitis caused by the herpes simplex virus, which also causes cold sores.
Both parents tested negative for the virus, meaning Mariana couldn’t have contracted it during pregnancy or from her parents, but likely got it from someone carrying the virus.
“They touch her and then she touches her mouth with her hand,” Nicole Sifrit told NBC affiliate WHO-TV.
According to the Meningitis Research Foundation, many people carry the herpes simplex virus without ever knowing they have it. They can even transmit the virus without showing symptoms.
Mariana was quickly admitted to the NICU, where her parents said things “immediately went down hill.”
Mariana quit breathing on her own and her organs began failing. She was life-flighted to the University of Iowa Hospital and placed on life support, her parents told WHO.
But the young baby continued to fight.
“She has a kidney team, a liver team, a blood team, a neurology team,” Nicole Sifrit said.
Mariana’s parents said they don’t want what happened to them to happen to other parents.
"I always thought this stuff happens and it's a shame and never thought it would happen to me. I was not prepared at all,” Shane Sifrit said.
The couple reminded parents to be careful of who they let around their newborns and make sure anyone handling your baby washes their hands.
“Don’t let people kiss your baby and make sure they ask before they pick up your baby,” Nicole Sifrit said.
The Meningitis Research Foundation says most causes of viral meningitis are not preventable, but emphasizes that handwashing is a good precaution to take.
A GoFundMe page had been launched to help the family with hospital bills.