Wash. family loses daughter to meningitis: 'It all just spiraled down'

LONGVIEW, Wash. - All it took was one week.

A happy, healthy little girl went into the hospital, and never came out.

Olivia Marie Smith's parents, Dawn Nelson and Eric Smith, said they had never heard of bacterial meningitis until their daughter was diagnosed last week.

Olivia died last Sunday night.

Bacterial meningitis can cause serious complications, such as brain damage, hearing loss, or learning disabilities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Olivia was ten months old and perfectly healthy, her parents said.

"Monday, that night, she had a fever, was achy" said Nelson. "I thought maybe she's teething."

By Wednesday, Olivia's parents thought she was improving.

"She was getting better," said Smith. "It just all spiraled down."

"My baby was gone," Nelson said. "(She was) just, like, spaced."

Olivia was having seizures. Her parents rushed her to the emergency room.

"I remember I was off in the corner looking at all this going on," said Nelson. "She's lying there, throwing up. Breathing tubes, testing. Everyone's telling me she's OK."

Then Olivia stopped breathing. An ambulance took her to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland.

"(The doctor) told me she's not going to make it," said Nelson. "Scariest thing I'd ever heard in my life.

"That Sunday night, we told them we want to get her dressed and take her off the machines," Nelson said. "Just hold her until her heartbeat stops."

A memorial service for Olivia is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Emmanuel Lutheran church in Longview.

Olivia's family started a Facebook page where they've announced fundraising events to help pay for hospital and funeral costs.