‘Voice’ Cast Member Shares Child’s ‘Devastating’ Hospitalization

Teddy bear in hospital

Pixabay Teddy bear in a child's hospital bed

Jimmie Allen is sharing details of what he calls his “worst nightmare” — the hospitalization of his infant daughter, Zara, for a scary condition that’s on the rise across the U.S. Along with his wife Lexi, the country star, who served as the mentor for Team Blake on the current season of “The Voice,” hopes to spread the word about Respiratory Syncytial Virus, better known as RSV.

Jimmie & Lexi Allen’s Daughter Was Hospitalized for 6 Days With RSV

On December 7, 2022, Jimmie shared a video and written message with fans via social media, revealing his daughter Zara’s scary battle with RSV when she was just six weeks old. Jimmie has three kids: he and Lexi welcomed Zara on October 16, 2021, and also have soon-to-be three-year-old daughter Naomi as well as Jimmie’s 8-year-old son Aadyn from a past relationship.

“When Lexi called me last year to tell me that Zara had been rushed to the hospital with severe respiratory syncytial virus (#RSV), I felt helpless,” Jimmie wrote on Instagram. The singer said he was on the road when he got the call, learning from Lexi that their baby girl had stopped breathing.

“I had never heard of RSV,” he continued. “All I knew was that as a parent, this was my worst nightmare.”

As that nightmare was unfolding last year, Jimmie tweeted on November 23 that because Lexi — a registered nurse — suspected something was wrong with their infant, she went to a hospital near their Tennessee home but was turned away, only for Zara to stop breathing and turn blue hours later. The baby was rushed by ambulance to another hospital, where the staff was able to stabilize her breathing.

“Now thanks to the lazy doctors at a hospital in TN that just sent our daughter home, our daughter Zara lost color stopped breathing and is being rushed to another hospital. Thanks to the amazing EMT team that brought back Zara’s color she can breath again. Gonna be a rough night.”

Zara is now a healthy toddler, but her parents are still shaken by the experience and worry that other parents aren’t aware of the life-threatening condition. They’ve partnered with pharmaceutical company Sanofi to share the company’s “Knowing RSV” campaign, which includes a comprehensive website with the signs and symptoms to watch for, as well as a more in-depth video with the Allens.

In that interview, Jimmie says that when Zara developed a cough at six-weeks-old, they thought she just had a cold, which they were used to managing with their other two kids. But her condition worsened quickly.

Jimmie shared, “I was on tour and my wife called me frantically and said Zara’s breathing had become erratic, and then she lost consciousness in my wife’s arms. Hearing that was devastating.”

Baby Zara was rushed to the hospital by ambulance, diagnosed with RSV and treated in the hospital for six days. RSV is the leading cause of hospitalizations for babies under the age of one, Jimmie shared, but said he and Lexi had never heard of it — and have since learned many parents haven’t.

“We felt vulnerable and scared,” Jimmie said. “Unsure of everything. It became important to share our story and help spread awareness.”

RSV Hospitalizations Already at Peak Levels in Many U.S. Cities

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says RSV-associated emergency department visits and hospitalizations are ramping up across the U.S., with some regions already nearing seasonal peak levels.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms, which most people recover from after a week or two. However, the CDC says the condition can be serious, especially for infants and older adults, as it can cause inflammation of the small airways in the lungs and pneumonia.

The CDC says people infected with RSV are typically contagious for three to eight days and can spread the virus a day or two before they’re showing symptoms. So a parent or sibling can easily pass it along to a new baby.

According to Sanofi’s “Knowing RSV” site, two out of three babies under the age of one will contract RSV, and they are 16 times more likely to be hospitalized for RSV than for the flu. In addition, babies under 6 months don’t always show typical cold-like symptoms, but may exhibit signs like irritability, decreased activity, decreased appetite, and difficulty breathing.

Fans and famous friends have praised Jimmie and Lexi on social media for sharing their experience.

Actress and singer Rita Wilson, whose new album of duets includes a song with Jimmie, wrote on Instagram, “You’re doing people a great service by sharing your experience.”

Comic and talk show host Loni Love wrote, “Omg!!!!” with four prayer-hands emojis and DJ Jazzy Jeff also posted a bunch of prayer emojis.

Among the many parents who shared their own stories of dealing with RSV on Jimmie’s Instagram post, one wrote, “It’s terrifying to go thru RSV we went thru when our daughter was 3 mths old and only weighed 12lbs! I am still traumatized by riding an ambulance while holding oxygen on my daughter. Thank you for making more aware of this!”

A fan who’s a doctor also commented, “You’re making a huge difference by sharing and educating others, especially this season. RSV is a huge issue right now. This physician & fan is so happy to see your post.”

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