What started as a simple sore throat turned into a real-life nightmare for one Rhode Island family, who lost their teenage daughter to a commonly overlooked infection.
As the New York Post reports, before a common infection took her life, Gianna Cirella was a normal junior goalkeeper for the Toll Gate High School soccer team.
It was at soccer practice, in fact, where Gianna’s troubles first started, as she suddenly began complaining of a sore throat.
Within 72 hours of what seemed like a minor sore throat, the once vivacious 16-year-old found herself in the hospital, where doctors revealed she had pneumonia.
According to The Providence Journal, as if that wasn’t bad enough, Gianna’s pneumonia quickly turned into sepsis, a serious and life-threatening blood infection.
A GoFundMe page that was initially set up to help cover Gianna’s ever-growing medical costs soon revealed that the infection had cut off the oxygen and blood supply to the teen’s right leg, forcing doctors to amputate.
“She was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs and an infection in her blood stream. Additionally, she faced various complications of great severity, and she relies on several machines to assist with her breathing and blood circulation. However, her right leg has not been able to recieve the oxygen needed in order to keep her muscles healthy. In order to save her life, part of this leg will need to be removed,” Gianna’s friend wrote on her GoFundMe page.
At school, friends and faculty were stunned to hear about Gianna’s sudden dark turn.
“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Lonna Razza, Gianna’s soccer coach, told The Providence Journal. “It was shocking – absolutely shocking – that it came on so quickly.”
Sadly, Gianna was never able to overcome sepsis, which her family and friends revealed on their GoFundMe page in November.
“As many of you know, Gianna was unable to overcome this illness. However, the amount of the support her and her family have received and continue to receive is immense. The money raised will now be going towards a scholarship fund that will be in Gianna's name. Thank you for all the donations being made, and thank you for the love and support you have shown. #GiStrong,” one update read.
Since her daughter’s death, Gianna’s mother, Tara Cirella, has kept her Facebook page alive by writing to her almost every day.
For Cirella and her family, the shock of losing Gianna so suddenly and violently to a seemingly common illness will likely never fade.
It’s been just over two months since Gianna passed away, but her family hopes that the teen’s story will at the very least serve as a warning to those suffering similar symptoms.
When Gianna first started experiencing a sore throat at soccer practice, her family didn’t think much of it, and by the time they finally made it to the hospital, it was already too late.
Some common symptoms of sepsis are fever, chills, dizziness, fatigue, and low blood pressure. None of these often overlooked signs should ever be ignored.