A family and high school in Virginia are mourning a 16-year-old girl who died Friday from complications related to the flu, according to her mother.
Katie Giovanniello, a sophomore at Heritage High School in Leesburg, was diagnosed with influenza B Feb. 2.
She spent most of the week resting in bed, with her mother caring for her at night.
“She slept with me because she wanted to be with her mommy and she was just sick, so like every other child I thought, OK, she’s sick, she just needs her mommy and she needs the medicine,” Colette Giovanniello said.
But when Katie's condition failed to improve by Thursday, her mother got ready to take her back to the doctor.
Instead, she found Katie lifeless, apparently suffering from cardiac arrest, which her mother believes was brought on by the flu.
"I know that they say it’s just a 24-hour bug and let them rest it out — don’t ever take it for granted," she said. "If I could do one thing I would have never even took her home Sunday [Feb. 2]. I would have made sure she was at the hospital sooner. I didn’t know that it wasn’t just flu that wouldn’t go away, and it didn’t and it killed her."
She wants her daughter's death to serve as a warning to others to get vaccinated and to pay close attention to flu symptoms if they persist.
“She was so special that everyone loved her,” she said. "No matter where you were, she became a part of your family. She called moms and dads, Mom and Dad.”
Heritage High canceled a pep rally and weekend dance after Katie’s death.
A GoFundMe page has been created for Katie's family.