The family of the 4-year-old boy who died from flu-related complications said they are thankful for the community support they have received.
The child, Jonah Rieben of Clayton, died Jan. 6 at Dayton Children’s Hospital. It was the first pediatric flu-related death in Ohio this year. Last flu season there were seven pediatric deaths in Ohio.
Jonah was being treated for several underlying medical conditions and he died just a few hours after the initial onset of symptoms, his parents Richard and Valerie Rieben said.
His older brother Nikolai, who also has underlying medical conditions, was admitted to Dayton Children’s on Wednesday following the onset of symptoms and is receiving treatment. He is in stable condition.
“At this point he is stable and doing very well,” Valerie Rieben said.
Richard Rieben said the family is thankful for the staff at Dayton Children’s and for family and friends who offered support.
The parents said Jonah loved to be in the middle of the family, surrounded by his parents and his 17 older siblings. If he ever was not already part of the fun, he’d protest until included.
“His older brothers and sisters absolutely adored him,” Valerie Rieben said.
Jonah was born in Bulgaria and adopted in February 2017.
Richard Rieben said their family, the adoption community and special needs community as well as their church have supported the family and reached out.
“For a while we’ve belonged to unique groups. You know, you belong to the ‘special needs parents’ group. You belong to the ‘big family’ group. The group I didn’t think I was ready to join was the group that has lost a young child,” he said. “So learning to be part of that group is going to be a significant challenge to us and learning to support our children as they go through this process.”
Valerie Rieben said with adoption, it’s amazing to see their children come from difficult places and thrive.
“Even if we knew what we’d have to go through, through losing a child, we’d say yes all over again,” she said. “It’s a difficult thing but the joy, the absolute joy, that Jonah brought into our lives and all of our children bring into our lives makes any sorrow that comes along with it worth it.”