Peyton's Story (Whooping Cough)

My now 10-month-old son, Peyton, is a pertussis survivor. At only 6 weeks old he developed the disease also known as “the whooping cough.” This disease caused my son to have severe coughing attacks, followed by the struggle to catch his breath which caused him to turn purple due to low oxygen levels. During each attack, I listened to my son make these awful high-pitched noises, a sound that is very common in pertussis. As a new mother, the first sounds I expected to hear from my son were small coos and giggles, not the sound of him gasping for air. I worried with every cough, will he catch his breath? The only thing I could do was coach him through it, with a calm tone “please breathe Peyton, please breathe.”

We are not sure how Peyton got whooping cough, but it might have been prevented had our family known that adults as well as adolescents need booster shots. Just one simple shot could possibly have prevented Peyton and our family from this horrible experience.

After three trips to the emergency room, Peyton was tested for pertussis. After five days, the test came back positive. Because the hospital didn’t suspect pertussis initially, the staff did not take proper precautions and everyone in every department that he came in contact with was required to take antibiotics after the pertussis was confirmed.

Peyton was discharged from the hospital after seven days on October 25th. Even after he came home, he struggled, but each day was a little bit better. His attacks were not as frequent as they were in the beginning, but just as severe. It took time, but finally, he’s back to being a normal healthy child.

Not in my wildest dreams did I think that my new healthy son would have to battle with such a terrible disease, at only six weeks old. To all new parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles: please from the bottom of my heart, get your booster shots. It is that important. And since there is too little awareness, please help spread the word about pertussis. It could save a baby’s life.

Aleshya Garner
Mother of Peyton
Dunn, NC