Four-year-old Mia Wilkinson went from being a healthy little girl to critically ill within 48 hours.
What started as the flu ended with Mia having both her arms amputated below the elbow and her legs amputated below the knee.
Mia's mum Amy can only describe the experience as a "nightmare".
"We sort of thought 'oh yeah flu, that's like a common cold' - we had no idea it could result in such tragedy," she told news.com.au.
Mia is now a busy, intelligent 9-year-old who will soon start Little Athletics using prosthetic running blades.
However, her journey has been far from easy and she will continue to need surgeries for years to come.
The Wilkinson family are advocating for kids to get vaccinated and want to increase awareness of sepsis – a life-threatening complication of an infection – so other families don't have to go through the same experience.
At the time of her infection, Mia was not vaccinated. Now the whole family gets the flu shot every year.
Professor Alison McMillan, Australia's chief nursing and midwifery officer, said children under 5 were particularly vulnerable to the flu and, given the low levels of the virus circulating in recent years, likely had little natural immunity this year.
"People don't necessarily understand that while these complications are rare, they do happen and they have significant consequences," Prof McMillan told news.com.au.
The Wilkinson family's 'nightmare'
One Friday in 2017 Mia Wilkinson enjoyed a fun morning playing with her cousins.
That afternoon, she complained of a sore stomach and at dinner, she vomited.
On Saturday morning, a GP diagnosed the 5-year-old as having gastro, but by the afternoon she was incoherent and disorientated.
Mia's parents Peter and Amy rushed her to the hospital. This was when she first started complaining of sore legs.
"Before Mia went to hospital, we'd never been to hospital, and we've got a daughter two years older," Mrs Wilkinson said.
Mia was diagnosed with influenza B and viral myositis (muscle weakness and pain) and sent home to rest.
By Sunday afternoon, Mia had a faint purple rash on her legs and was back in the hospital – this time in the paediatric intensive care unit.
She was suffering from sepsis.
Prof McMillan explained: "Sepsis is a condition where an infection such as Mia had goes from one part of your body and then overwhelms all of your body and it becomes a very critical situation.
"Sepsis can be fatal or can have a profound effect on the health of a child."
A terrible night turned into a terrible morning as Mia's hands and feet became dark.
Her blood pressure was critically low and she needed medication to help her brain and vital organs, but it greatly diminished the flow of blood to her arms and legs.
After six days on life support, Mia started breathing on her own and she was woken.
She had survived, but it was only just the start of a long and challenging recovery.
As time went on, the extent of damage to her hands and feet became clearer and more of her limbs blackened.
Just over a week later, Mia's arms were amputated below the elbow, and about two months after that her legs were amputated below the knee.
Concern for young children this flu season
Peter and Amy Wilkinson are encouraging parents to vaccinate their children and be aware of the rare, but possible complications that can come from common illness such as the flu.
They also want parents to know what to look for when it comes to sepsis and have the confidence to discuss the possibility of sepsis with a doctor who is treating their child.
"The majority of Australians have never heard about sepsis and do not know what to look for. We had never heard of it either," Mrs Wilkinson said.
"Any infection, whether it be viral like the flu or bacterial like a UTI (urinary tract infection), anything like that can lead to sepsis and can lead to your child being critically ill."
Prof McMillan said she was concerned about the vulnerability of children under 5 this year due to many children not having developed natural immunity during the pandemic.
She was also concerned about "vaccine fatigue".
"We'd like to see a higher number of the under-5s vaccinated against influenza because we know how important it is to protect them from this severe disease," she said.
Prof McMillan said there was "a lot of misinformation" on the flu vaccine and pleaded with Australians to speak to a trusted health professional if they had any concerns or use credible sources like the Government's Healthdirect website.
As well as getting vaccinated, Australians are reminded of basic health measures such as washing hands and staying home if sick.