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Kenosha baby struggling with COVID-19 dies of MRSA infection

Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-04 23:35:36-05

KENOSHA, Wis. — A beloved doll, a makeshift rattle, a lock of hair and handprints are the items that bring a little comfort to a Kenosha family that lost their 7-month-old baby girl Calani Cunningham.

The Cunninghams say their daughter had COVID, but ultimately died of a staph infection. They are now sharing their story in hopes other parents do not have to go through a similar tragedy.

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Charles, Rocio and their daughter Cali, 4, stand in front of the memory they put togehter for their daugher Calani who died from MRSA.

Rocio Cunningham, Calani’s mother, shows off a picture of her daughter on Super Bowl Sunday. Calani is looking happy and healthy. It would be one week later everything changed.

Rocio says Calani got sick and she took her to the hospital.

“She was very warm, fussy and even sweating. That’s when I took her to Aurora and that’s when she was diagnosed with COVID,” said Rocio.

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Rocio and Charles Cunningham talk about their baby Calani who died from MRSA.

Rocio and her husband Charles took Calani home. But then two days later rushed her to Children’s Hospital emergency room when Calani's breathing got worse. She was admitted and got treated for COVID, but her mom says she wasn’t getting better.

“She is still not eating. She is still not peeing. She has a high fever. Her neck is getting more swollen. What’s going on?” asked Rocio.

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Cali holds her little sister's favorite toy, a doll that was with Calani in the hospital before her death.

As she was moved to the intensive care unit, Calani almost died.

“They started performing CPR on her. They made me leave the room at that point because they were trying to revive her and they didn’t want me to see that,” said Rocio.

Rocio says they were able to bring Calani back, but she had to go on life support. It was during that time, as the hospital drained fluid from Calani lungs, that Rocio and Charles say they found out Calani also had a staph infection.

Calani Cunningham on Super Bowl Sunday, the week before she got sick.

“There was a little bit of relief, because then we knew what her body was going through because they didn’t know for a long time,” said Rocio.

However, it wasn’t just any staph infection It was Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). It is a staph infection resistant to most antibiotics.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the majority of people who contract it survive. However, Calani could not fight it off.

Her parents made the difficult decision to take her off life support last week. They want people to know Calani’s story so her death might help another family.

Calani Cunningham in her hospital bed sick with both COVID and MRSA.

“It hurts just looking back on everything. So again, the one thing I would want to tell parents is just keep trying. Just keep asking for answers, keep demanding answers. We know our child, we know when our children are okay. Don’t rest until you know your child is okay.,” said Charles.

TMJ4 News asked both Aurora Health Care and Children’s Hospital about Calani’s case.

“The safety of our patients is always our top priority, and our hearts go out to this family for their unimaginable loss," Aurora Health Care said in a statement.

Children’s Hospital issued the following statement:

“First, that child’s family is in our thoughts and has our deepest sympathy. Nobody should have to endure the loss of a child. Children’s Wisconsin is committed to providing the best and safest care to every child and family we serve, and we have a process in place for reviewing concerns and working with families. We aren't able to provide you further comments or an interview on this.”

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