Ariana Rae Delfs, 17, suffered constant headaches and cold-like symptoms before her tragic death.

By Gabrielle Chung
December 13, 2019
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A Florida teen’s life was tragically cut short when she contracted mononucleosis, her family says.

Ariana Rae Delfs, 17, died after falling ill about three weeks ago, according to WJAX-TV. Her father, Mark Delfs, said the star student, who was a senior at Fernandina Beach High School, started showing typical cold-like symptoms and “seem to always have a headache” before her health rapidly deteriorated.

“Your body is supposed to be able to fight it off. It was too far, too fast,” he told the local news station.

Delfs said the family took her to the doctor when the teen’s condition worsened. Though physicians ran a variety of tests to determine what was wrong, no formal diagnosis was made, according to the dad.

“One evening, not too long ago, she started throwing up just constantly. We got very nervous, so the next morning at 7 a.m. we said we’re going to take her to the hospital,” he remembered.

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There, he said, Ariana started showing more severe symptoms, including loss of feeling in her limbs and slurred speech.

“She got up to go to the bathroom,” he said. “All of a sudden she couldn’t feel part of her legs, and she felt like her legs were just giving out.”

“Her words were very slurred at times. She was just talking gibberish, and the damage was already beginning at that point, which we just didn’t know,” he continued.

Doctors suspected Ariana was suffering from a stroke, according to WJAX-TV, and quickly relocated her to a hospital in Jacksonville. It wasn’t until the teenager’s final days that physicians were able to pinpoint the problem.

“She actually had mono and Epstein-Barr, which is mononucleosis, which is the sleeping disease,” her father said.

Ariana was in the hospital for only three days before she was taken off life support, Delfs told the outlet.

“Her brain swelled to the point where it couldn’t function and brain damage did occur,” he said. “And we just made the decision that it was time to let her go.”

Mononucleosis — also often called “the kissing disease” — is an infection most commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is common among teenagers and young adults, and the Epstein-Barr virus can be transmitted through bodily fluids such as saliva.

The Delfs family has set up a GoFundMe campaign in memory of their daughter, hoping to raise money to fund “some of her passions, including music and arts programs for children, helping animals and making the world a better place,” a description of the fundraiser reads.

Ariana’s father has since signed up to become an organ donor after learning that his daughter was one as well, News4Jax reports. He also hopes that Ariana’s passing will inspire others to become organ donors as well.

“She was a very giving soul; she would give anybody anything,” Delfs told WJAX-TV of his child. “The doctor actually told us she was an organ donor and we were just, I can’t even describe it. We were just like, ‘Wow, that’s her. That sums her up right there.'”

This article originally appeared on People.com.

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