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Medical staff rally around mother whose son died from apparent drowning

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (KCTV) – Grant Farrell passed away on Thanksgiving morning, which was a week before his 4th birthday and two days after his mother found him unresponsive in the bathtub.

Overland Park police responded to the Village at Lionsgate Apartments in Overland Park shortly after 7 pm on Nov. 22 for what they described as a possible drowning. A week later, they confirmed that the child had since died. Public Information Officer John Lacy said the death appears accidental, but the investigation remains open pending autopsy results.

Mikaela Haendler is a director at the day care center little Grant attended. She saw him every day since he was an infant and described him as a spitfire.

“As wild and crazy as he was, he was just as loving,” Haendler said affectionately. “You got lots of hugs, lots of smiles, and lots of sass,”

“Right on the holidays. He passed on Thanksgiving. It’s just… it’s every mother’s absolute worst nightmare,” said Alli Browne, who works as an obstetrics nurse with Grant’s mother.

Browne said Grant’s mom had stepped away from the tub briefly to tend to her newborn.

“It puts you in the mindset of ‘it could happen to any of us,’ because I don’t think that there’s any parent that can actually say that they haven’t had their almost 4-year-old in a bathtub and stepped away for a second,” said Browne.

Grant’s family has speculated that he had a febrile seizure brought on by Influenza A, which they didn’t even know he had until after his medical emergency.

Dr. Shawn Sood, MD did not treat Grant but said a fever related to the flu and other viruses can lower the threshold for a child to have a seizure.

“Unfortunately, I have seen this many times in my career,” Sood said. “Febrile seizures, especially in a bathtub, can lead to devastating consequences.”

Sood is a pediatric critical care doctor with the University of Kansas Health System. He remarked that many parents are unaware of how serious flu complications can be in young children.

“As a parent, [when] you think about the flu, you think about pneumonia. You think about muscle aches. You think about fever. But some complications can be neurological as well, [like] encephalopathy and seizures, especially in the pediatric population,” Sood explained.

Some signs that things are serious include: Labored breathing, a fever above 100.4, not responding to Tylenol, and confusion or lethargy.

Grant’s mother is a single mom with three other children to care for, and now comfort, all while planning a funeral and dealing with grief.

Her coworkers have rallied to raise more than $16,000 via GoFundMe to help with expenses.

“Our team that we work with at work is just a family,” Browne said. “When one of us is down and is in need, we band together and we do everything we can to help. So, a lot of that is from coworkers and from doctors that we work with. It’s been really incredible.”

“It’s a huge loss for everyone,” added Haendler, “and he’s going to be greatly missed.”

Doctors at Children’s Mercy Hospital have said Influenza came earlier than usual this year and they are expecting a severe flu season. They note that children can get the flu shot as early as 6 months old.