A five-year-old girl has died from a rare complication of catching a cold.

Elizabeth Spencer, from Gloucestershire in the UK started getting flu-like symptoms but her family assumed it was a cold, when she collapsed they took her to hospital where she was put in an induced coma.

But tragically she died just 18 days later.

Metro reports that it was an extremely rare auto immune condition, which sent her body into overdrive to fight off the original virus. The condition, Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, caused her body to go into septic shock, shutting down her major organs and cutting off the blood supply to her limbs.

Her mother, Natalie told media “I couldn’t believe it to begin with. In the morning I thought she had a flu and in the evening I was told she probably wouldn’t make it.”

“It’s devastating for a mother to see a child like that. It was 18 of the most heart-breaking days. Her immune system killed her.”

On the day of her funeral, her family released rainbow-coloured balloons in her memory.

Share your comments below.

  • So very, very sad. My condolences to the family.


  • How absolutely heartbreaking and scary. Sending love to the family and friends of this little angel.


  • What a tragic story, bought tears to my eyes


  • yes this is a story that i read elsewhere and it is very sad.


  • oh, heartbreaking! poor, poor family. I cannot imagine coping with such grief.


  • So tremendously sad. My heart is breaking for this family.

    But please don’t say the child died from a cold. This implies that it could be some kind of super-killer which could affect others in a similar fashion. She died from an auto-immune disorder, which kicked her body into overdrive to battle the virus.

    The ‘cold’ didn’t kill her, and isn’t likely to kill anyone else.


  • Wow what a shock and a very sad time my heart goes out to her family.xx


  • How dreadful. You just can’t protect your kds from things like this.


  • Dear lady
    So sad to hear of the tragic news of her dear daughter. It’s crazy how a person’s own immune system can turn on them sometimes. I send my deepest sympathy to the family. Releasing those balloons was a beautiful tribute to her life. Whenever you see a rainbow may your memory of her be prompted that much more. In your heart and not forgotten. Blessings and peace to the family.


  • This is devastating. Deepest condolences to her family and friends. My autoimmune disease went undetected until I had an acute episode and then another nine months until diagnosis. There are so few cases available with some of these conditions and treatment can be totally different between individuals. So sad her poor little body wasn\’t strong enough to carry her through.


  • Her parents obviously had no prior knowledge of the autoimmune disease, especially as it is so rare. It may even have delayed the diagnosis unless she was seen immediately by a Dr. that knew a lot about it.
    Condolenses to her family, relatives and friends.


  • This condition looks so frightening! What a pity the treatment didn’t help. So devastating! :-(


  • How tragic. My thoughts are with this girls family


  • What a sad story. My thoughts do out to the family as they deal with their loss.


  • Heartbreaking. My thoughts are with the family. I hope they have a heap of support at this impossible time.


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