12-Year-Old Boy Diagnosed With Flu Dies Days Before Birthday, Las Vegas Mother Says

A 12-year-old Las Vegas boy died within 48 hours of being diagnosed with the flu, just two days before he would’ve celebrated his 13th birthday, according to his mother.

Carlo Occhipinti Jr., also known as Junior, died on Dec. 30, Brenda Occhipinti told Las Vegas television station KTNV.

“It’s the hardest thing any parent can go through because they’re your life you know. My children are my life,” she said.

Brenda and Carlo Occhipinti told the station that Junior was a healthy and lively boy on the 28th of December. The following day, he started getting sick and received the diagnosis. His symptoms included a sore throat, vomiting and body aches, she told another Las Vegas station, KVVU.

“I just don’t understand how the flu can easily just take him that quickly,” Brenda said.

The Occhipintis miss their Junior — the child whose smile lit up the room and always made everyone around him laugh. Junior was also a responsible older brother, they said.

“He was a great help around the house especially with my youngest 3-year-old,” Carlo said.

The Occhipintis told KNTV his vaccines were all up to date. They wonder if the genetic disorder he had, Marfan syndrome, made fighting the flu a lot more difficult for him.

But experts say this flu season is brutal. In the Las Vegas, about 14 people have died from the flu this season.

“Wait times at urgent cares are anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours. In ERs it can be anywhere from 4 to seven hours,” said Dr. Michael Johnson of the Southern Nevada Health District.

Experts think the peak of flu season is either here or near in the U.S.

“That’s the bad news. The good news is just within the last week we’ve actually seen a downturn in the number of ER visits from influenza-like illness,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, the Occhipintis have a message to parents: If you think your child is sick, don’t wait.

“Don’t second guess it either … a lot of people might think they might got food poisoning or something they ate. It’s gonna go away. You never know because that’s what we thought,” Brenda said.