‘Parents need to know what symptoms to look for’: How a missed sinus infection led to boy’s deadly illness

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“Marquel Brumley was a good boy, played football, straight A student, trumpet player in the band, not trendy at all, loved to help people and his daily goal was to make everyone smile and laugh.

Nicole Gilbert Alexander

Marquel was initially diagnosed with a viral cold when he went to urgent care about a month ago, then he started to have migraines and his mom took him to the ER. They told her it could be migraines and tension headaches, and advised her to continue over-the-counter pain meds. After a few days it was worse, so she took him to a different ER. He was a bit dehydrated. They gave him fluids and basically the same diagnosis, with the same regimen to follow. He spent the night at our house that weekend, and he was in pain the whole time.

His mom took him back to the ER the following Monday the 5th because of the pain, a swollen right eye, and some drooping on the left side of his face. Once there, they did an MRI and could see the infection which had spread into the blood vessels in the brain. His eye was swollen because of the blood clots and he had an infection around his brain as well. The clots had caused strokes, which is why his left side was drooping.

Nicole Gilbert Alexander

Next, they took him by ambulance to a hospital that was more adapted to handle his case. Once there, they performed an emergency surgery with a neurosurgeon and an ENT to try and remove as much of the infection as they could around the brain and the sinuses. They had him on a strong intravenous antibiotic regimen and then started him on blood thinners to break the clots up. The bacterial sinus infection was the final diagnosis. Unfortunately that is a slow process, and between the clots and the infection, his brain sustained too much swelling and pressure causing a deficiency in oxygen, which caused his brain to die.

I have been telling his story for people who had no idea this could happen. It needs to be out there so parents know this can happen, and what signs and symptoms to look for, and to push if the doctors take it too lightly. My nephew became an organ donor, he saved 7 lives, and we are proud of that. We are so glad 7 families don’t have to experience our loss and heartache, but in his death, his story has gone so viral that I hope instead of 7 lives, we can save many more through an awareness that people didn’t know about.

If your child has a headache, which is not normal for a child to have constant headaches, make them check for a sinus infection — take them to an ENT! A sinus infection can be present without cold symptoms! Be wary of where the pain is, if it is in the face or forehead. Marquel’s was an all over pain because the infection had spread front to back. Watch for eye redness, as the infection can spread to the eyes first and cause redness and swelling before it reaches the brain.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Marquel’s aunt, Nicole Gilbert Alexander of  Mount Morris, Michigan. Submit your story here, and subscribe to our best love stories here.

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