Lee County family shares story after their 7-year-old son dies from bacterial meningitis

Reporter: Emma Heaton Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:
Theo Filus (Credit: WINK News)

A little boy in Southwest Florida died only days after getting bacterial meningitis. Theo Filus was only in first grade when he contracted it, and doctors have no idea how.

Pictures, drawings, and letters still lay on top of Theo’s bed. His mother can’t bear to move them.

“He was autistic. He’s beautiful. He has like the innocence. He just has a love for everybody,” said Julie Silva, Theo’s mother.

Silva said last week was just like any other until Theo woke up Wednesday with a fever, so she took him to a pediatrician.

“He said was just a virus. And then I come home and stay with him all day. When it was like five in the afternoon, I noticed he had like some rash and his neck,” said Silva.

Alarmed, Silva rushed her 7-year-old boy to the emergency room.

Doctors there told her and Theo’s father, Alexandre Filus, that their son had the rare infection of bacterial meningitis, and that the infection attacked the cover of the brain.

All-day Thursday, doctors and nurses worked to save Theo, but they couldn’t stop his body from failling and the rash from spreading.

On Friday morning, Silva and Filus had to make a decision no parent should ever face. Keep Theo connected to tubes and machines, or let him go.

“You’ll always be in my heart. For the rest of my life,” said Filus.

“I love you. You are my son. He said to me, mom, you are my big sunshine. You always gonna be my sunshine. I know I don’t understand why you are here. You are still here with me. Forever. Love you so so so much,” said Silva.

Theo’s time of death was 10:30 a.m. Friday. His parents will always treasure their son and his love, and can never, and will never stop asking why.

Dr. Brian Thornburg from Naples has seen bacterial meningitis in one of his patients before and said it’s rare. Only five out of every 100,000 children get it.

“It attacks, the brain specifically attacks the lining around the brain, and it causes swelling around the brain,” said Thornburg.

Thornburg said it’s critical patients get treatment right away.

“Some of these kids can pass away within hours from the initial onset of the infection,” said Thornburg.

Theo’s mom has this warning for everyone. “Don’t wait for the rash. The rash is the last step. Go to the hospital and then in please ask for them to check because it’s something, when the rash comes, something they cannot go back,” said Silva.

“It’s staying vigilant to the way your child to acting, taking a look at how they’re moving their head around. Are they looking at you? Are they staying engaged with you as a fever’s up?” said Thornburg.

If the answers are no, the child needs to get to the doctor fast.

Theo’s parents said he loved judo, the pool, and playing with his dad.

He will be deeply missed.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.