A family has been left devastated after their 5-year-old daughter died from what was initially believed to have been a common cold.

However, they later discovered that young Cathy Kassis had actually been struck down with Strep A, a bacteria that can cause respiratory and skin infections and can range from mild to severe.

But by the time they found out the true cause of her symptoms, the hard-fought battle for her life was already over.

Cathy’s stepfather Justin Sutton, a Bathurst, Australia resident, said he and Cathy’s mother Jazz Worobez were concerned from the onset of her illness and their fears continued to grow as she became sicker.

However, the doctors told them not to be concerned as it was a simple virus.


Australian girl Cathy Kassis, 5, died after her Strep A infection was misdiagnosed as. common cold.
Australian girl Cathy Kassis, 5, died after her Strep A infection was misdiagnosed as. common cold.
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“After three days she had lost her voice completely, so we were obviously a bit concerned,” he told 7News.

“But the doctors just said it was a viral infection and to keep doing what we’re doing and let it run its course.”

However, her condition worsened and she struggled to breathe, that’s when she was rushed to hospital.

“She wasn’t breathing properly … it was almost like an asthma attack or what it’s like to watch someone with emphysema trying to breathe,” Sutton said.


Doctors told Cathy's parents that she had viral infection and that it should "run its course."
Doctors told Cathy’s parents that she had viral infection and that it should “run its course.”
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In hospital they were also told the same thing. When her tests came back negative, it was concluded that Cathy had a viral infection and she was sent home.

Then, at home on August 28 Cathy’s lips turned blue and her mother called the ambulance.

“She was going in and out of consciousness and had sort of collapsed in Jazz’s arms,” Sutton said.

He performed CPR while on the phone with emergency services for around 15 minutes, then the paramedics arrived and took over while he set up the defibrillator.


According to Cathy's father, Strep A could have been treated with antibiotics if diagnosed properly.
According to Cathy’s father, Strep A could have been treated with antibiotics if diagnosed properly.
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She was flown in a police helicopter to Westmead Children’s Hospital, however 78 minutes later CPR was over and Cathy’s parents were delivered the worst news of their life.

“They told us she had been pronounced as brain dead. The coroner found the cause of death was strep A, and Westmead had found that out through a simple throat swab.”

He said he is very proud of his daughter for donating her organs a few days later.

“She donated three organs, and all three recipients are now expected to make a full recovery,” he said.

“She epitomizes a real life superhero, and not many people can say that. Something that’s been the worst moment of our lives … at least she was able to save three other families, which is a beautiful thing.”

“We’ve got that real feeling of numbness, which is good in a way because we’re able to get on with things and focus on the funeral,” he said.

“But we know our darker days are ahead of us.”

Sutton keeps wondering if it could have all been prevented.

“It could’ve been treated with just a normal course of antibiotics,” he said.

“We really just want people to be aware of it and to tell people to trust their instinct when something doesn’t feel right.”

GoFundMe page has been set up to help Cathy’s family.

Strep A kills 50,000 people around the world every year, and affects around 750 million people.

Australia is experiencing a surge in cases of the disease in children, according to a study published in the medical journal the Lancet Regional Health.

Three children died with complications from Strep A infection between July 2018 and December 2022.

There were 280 patients aged under 18 admitted to five major Australian pediatric hospitals with the infection, and of those 84 young patients experienced severe complications such as toxic shock and flesh-eating, necrotizing disease, the study found.

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