Courier Staff Writer
Patrick Phillips, 5, died June 13 from a severe bacterial diasease called shigella.
He loved Spiderman and wanted to be a superhero. A foundation established in his memory may help carry on Patrickís ambitions.
Five-year-old Patrick Phillips loved Spiderman and wanted to be a superhero. He wanted to help people. With the Patrickís Song Foundation, he will.
Barney Phillips of Bedford, Ky., plans to set up the foundation in memory of his son, Patrick, who died June 13 of the disease shigella.
It wasnít until this week they learned the cause of his death was shigella, an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria. Those infected experience severe diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps up to 24 hours after exposure to the bacterium, according to the Web site of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The disease, which is not commonly fatal, affected most of the Phillips family. Barney Phillipsí wife, Sarah Phillips, and their other two children, Josh, 4, and Vicki, 2, also displayed symptoms of shigella.
Barney Phillips thinks the family was exposed to the bacteria at a fast-food restaurant while in Indianapolis at a ìReconciling the Kingdomî convention June 8.
Shigella can be contracted through contaminated food, water or poor hygiene, said Greg Bentz, Jefferson County chief deputy coroner. In Patrick Phillipsí death, the root of the disease will not be known until a number of tests have been completed in the coming months, he said.
Vicki Phillips first displayed the symptoms June 9. Barney Phillips said he and his wife thought she had a stomach flu. After Sarah Phillips developed similar symptoms, she and the three children left the convention early to return to their home in Bedford. Early June 12, Josh and Patrick Phillips began to feel ill.
Barney Phillips returned from the convention late Sunday night to find his family sick from what was believed to be a stomach virus. When he awoke Monday morning to find Patrick very ill, he called an ambulance.
ìIíve never in my life felt so helpless as I did Monday morning,î Barney Phillips said. ìSo I just prayed for him.î
Patrick Phillips died at Kingís Daughtersí Hospital in Madison later that morning.
ìThe doctors didnít even know what it was,î he said.
The hospital flew the other two Phillips children experiencing the illness to Kosair Childrenís Hospital in Louisville for tests and treatments. Sarah Phillips was tested, treated and released from Kingís Daughtersí Hospital the same day. The two children were released from Kosair on June 16.
The Marion County Health Department has sent a letter to all individuals who attended the convention informing them that a child infected with shigella also had attended. The letter includes a list of symptoms and also things to do to prevent the disease. The health department told the individuals to wash hands, toys and laundry regularly.
ìWeíre aware of the situation,î said John Althardt, spokesman for the health department. ìWeíre monitoring the situation.î
Since the conference, no cases of shigella have been reported in the Marion County area.
Both the Trimble County and Marion County, Ind., health departments have been alerted about the disease.
According to the North Central District Health Department in Kentucky, the disease has been contained in Kentucky.
Indiana state epidemiologist Bob Teclaw has been tracking the disease. Although he couldnít discuss individual cases, he said that if the health department knows that a disease will affect the general public, it will take action.
ìUsually shigella is associated through schools and day-care centers,î he said. ìBut there are a few odd cases that arenít associated with anything.î
Anyone who develops symptoms of shigella should contact the local health department. With antibiotics and rehydration, an infected person will fully recover within a week, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.
Since their sonís death, the Phillipses have been trying to learn about the disease as well as want help other families who have lost children.
The Patrickís Song Foundation, which is in its beginning stages, will help missions to Nigeria as well as grieving families that donít have financial or spiritual support, Barney Phillips said. The purpose of the foundation will be to help families who have suffered a great loss and havenít had the spiritual and financial support the Phillipses have experienced.
ìWeíve had such a great support network,î he said. ìWeíve got people praying from all over the world. I want to return that to other families.î
Patrick Phillipsí funeral was Friday in Bedford.
ìIt was sad, but peaceful,î Barney Phillips said of the services.
Presidents of seminary schools, pastors from churches, bishops, family, friends and church members attended the funeral, he said.
ìI never realized how much my own child impacted,î he said. ìIím a grieving father, but a proud father to have a child I am so proud of.î
At the funeral, a friend of the family, Shalinda Silvers, performed a song she wrote in memory of the boy, ìPatrickís Song.î
ìHe touched so many people,î said Bernie Wade, Patrickís honorary grandfather.
The Spiderman-loving boy had a way with people, he said.
ìHe was a really loving kid,î Wade said. ìHe just had this unconditional love and was always telling people he loved them.î
Patrick Phillips had many loves. Besides loving those around him, he loved to read and to be read to. He was a part of the Trimble County Libraryís Summer Reading Program and had read 12 books so far this summer. ìSpiderman,î ìCat in the Hatî and ìClifford the Big Red Dogî are among the ones on the list.
ìPatrick also loved Jesus,î Barney Phillips said. ìHe was his favorite author and the Bible was his favorite book. That has let us cope and maintain.î
The other two children as well as Sarah Phillips have recovered from shigella. They are slowly trying to get back to their lives, which will never be the same, Barney Phillips said.
ìI miss him,î he said. ìBut this has made us stronger than ever.î