Family urges vaccinations after tragic loss
- EFN Staff | February 07, 2017
Baby Zander Tarzan Venne was a nine-month-old baby who loved to carry his favourite owl toy around with him wherever he went. He was a happy and cheerful little baby who had nothing but smiles on his face – a smile that lit up any room.
“Zander could brighten up anyone’s day no matter what mood they were in. He was so happy and was always laughing,” says Allison Modine, who is the aunty of late Zander. “My favorite memory was when he kept Facetiming me by accident on my sisters phone probably like 3 or 4 times that day. Every time I seen him, he would smile right away.”
Allison resides in Prince Albert but keeps in touch with her sister Ashley McLeod, the mother of late Zander, who lives in La Ronge. Allison shares a heartbreaking story of her nephew who died recently on January 24th from meningitis. She says her sister Ashley had so much love for her only child.
“He was her baby and her everything. She used to talk about him almost everyday and she would upload pictures of him everyday on her Facebook,” says Allison. “My sister is absolutely devastated when she lost her only child.”
Baby Zander just learned how to crawl weeks before he passed away. On the evening of January 23rd, Zander came down with a fever; as he was teething at the same time, the family thought it was a normal symptom. She broke his fever by giving him a bath and by the morning, he felt a bit better. After they woke up around noon from their morning nap, Ashley noticed spots on Zander that raised her concerns.
“She freaked out, panicked and took him to the emergency right away. He went under cardiac arrest and passed away within two hours from arriving while waiting to be airlifted to Saskatoon,” recalls Allison. “Our whole family has been affected by this. Zander was loved by everyone.”
Since his passing, Ashley has been taking it hard. She couldn’t sleep in her home after losing her child so she moved out and stayed at a friend’s place until she got another home. Every night, Ashley sleeps with a picture of her son Zander to remind her of the happiness that he brought to her and her family.
Baby Zander was up to date on all his immunizations but he was two months shy of receiving the 12-month vaccination for meningitis.
This experience has caused bad anxiety for Allison and she now takes precautions for her own children by ensuring they are up to date with their immunizations and to recognize the signs of the infection. She shares her sister’s story with hopes that others can understand that meningitis can take a life away fast and that immunizations can prevent it from happening. The deadly infection is usually mistaken for the flu or teething; Allison urges parents to be aware of those symptoms.
Related: Opinion: Canada's vaccination gap
“Keep your child’s immunizations up to date. If you suspect it's more then a fever or if something doesn't feel right, take your child in. It does not hurt to get your child looked at,” she says. “I hope by spreading awareness that it will help people to know the risks of what meningitis is and to prevent this from happening to someone else’s innocent child.”
Allison and her sister are currently raising money to buy baby Zander a headstone for his grave as well as for meningitis research. The headstone they want to buy costs over $5000 and so far, Allison has raised close to $700 on a Go Fund Me page.
“There's really nothing I can say or do for my sister that's going to make her feel better or whole again. The least I can do for her is try get her precious baby boy a headstone,” she adds. “He deserves it. My little sister is my best friend and I'll do what it takes to get him that headstone.”
People can donate at the Go Fund Me Page titled Headstone for Zander.