Mom Warns Other Parents After Son's Legs Are Amputated Following Strep and Influenza A Case

"As a mother, as a parent, as a person in general, I don't want anybody else to have to go through this," mother Michele Stevenson told Good Morning America this week

Go Fund Me Michele Stevenson
Go Fund Me Michele Stevenson's son Kaden Stevenson

A Michigan mom is warning other parents about the dangers of strep A and influenza A after her son had to get both of his legs amputated.

Kaden Stevenson, a 7-year-old from Grand Blanc, Michigan, underwent surgery on his legs on March 3 after first getting sick before Christmas, his mother Michele told Good Morning America on Thursday.

Initially, Michele thought her son was dealing with a cold or a stomach bug, but she began to realize something was wrong as his condition started to worsen after four days.

"If your kid has any of those signs of fever, they complain of pain, you see any rashes, just take them to the emergency," Michelle told GMA. "Catch it early. That's the biggest thing. And listen to your kids. They tell you they don't feel good? Don't just sweep it under the rug, assuming that it's a little cold. Get it checked out."

Michele Stevenson and her son Kaden Stevenson
Michele Stevenson and her son Kaden Stevenson

Related:4-Year-Old Girl Nearly Dies After Strep A Leads to Flesh-Eating Bacteria: 'She Was Deteriorating'

For Michele, the realization came after her son — who plays soccer and karate — was unable to put his shoes or coat on. "Something just felt off," she told GMA. Prior to that, she believed he had contracted a simple case of the flu because "of the pain he kept talking about."

"So I looked him over. His right leg was swollen," she told the outlet. "He had a rash all over his body. His eyes looked puffy to me, and it seemed like that all happened within a short period of time."

After taking Kaden to Hurley Children's Hospital in Flint, and later having him transferred to see a "pediatric orthopedic surgeon," Michele said the gravity of the situation really sunk in for her when a helicopter arrived for her son.

"I didn't hear about [strep] really until we got in the hospital and I heard about other kids at the same time had the same thing my son had," Michelle said. "One little boy didn't make it. I'm hearing this family sad and crying and saying goodbye to their son, and my son's here still fighting for his life. My heart goes out to that family."

"[Kaden] said the other little boy that died, he was sad that he died, but he was going to live for him. He was going to be strong for the little boy," Michelle added. "As a mother, as a parent, as a person in general, I don't want anybody else to have to go through this. This has been horrifying."

Related:2 U.S. Children Die from Group A Strep — Here's What Parents Should Know

Michelle told WNEM her son had both "the flu plus strep A, but strep A got into his bloodstream, which caused him to get the toxic shock." Dr. Nicholas Haddad, an infectious disease expert, told the outlet that streptococcal toxic shock syndrome sees around 50 cases per million people, and can be deadly if left untreated. He also emphasized the importance of treating open wounds.

After getting his legs amputated — above the knee on his right leg and below the knee on his left — and as he awaits what he calls his "robot legs," Kaden is still "kind of happy," his mother told GMA.

"He always talks about [how] he misses the old times, and he misses when he could walk and how things used to be, but he said he's kind of happy. He likes his new legs," she told the outlet.

On Wednesday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials noted that at least five kids in Illinois died of invasive strep A this year and renewed a warning, per GMA. Strep A usually runs from December through April. Influenza A, meanwhile, has also been in circulation in the form of different strains, per the CDC.

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A GoFundMe from Taquana Eugene, a friend of the family for over 15 years, has since raised more than $16,000 as of Friday morning. An explainer for the fundraiser says it will assist the Stevenson family and was written before Kaden's amputations.

"This woman right here would give you the shirt off her back," Eugene wrote on the page of Michele. "Now she needs help."

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