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8-year-old battles post-COVID syndrome

Doctors concerned more kids will suffer lasting symptoms
Posted at 7:37 PM, Sep 30, 2021

BALTIMORE, Md. (WMAR) -- COVID-19 cases in children continue to rise, bringing concerns that more kids will suffer lasting symptoms.

A family in Maryland knows firsthand how devastating the symptoms can be.

“Never in our wildest dreams did we think that this would happen and she was just so sick,” said mom Lauren Deitz.

It started at the beginning of August. Morgan Deitz, 8, and her 10-year-old sister Natalie tested positive for COVID-19.

“We just thought we had very mild cases and were going on with the summer. So after we finished quarantine, we just went back to our typical normal selves,” said Lauren.

But a few weeks later, Morgan started getting really tired. She had a fever and stomach pains.

“Then I couldn’t walk,” said Morgan.

Lauren took her to urgent care where she was tested for a bunch of things but they were all negative. The doctor said it could be a virus, but added to watch for other symptoms of a rare but dangerous syndrome in children that happens after a COVID-19 infection.

Then the next morning, Morgan woke up with a red rash on her hands.

“That was one of the symptoms that the urgent care doctor said to look out for so she said if that happens to take her to an ER,” said Lauren.

She spent 10 days at the Johns Hopkins Pediatric ICU battling multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

“What happens with these children or young adults is that their immune system is overstimulated and hyperactive post their infection,” said Dr. Meghan Bernier.

Bernier was one of Morgan’s doctors and is the medical director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.

Since MIS-C was only identified last year, there’s less awareness so it’s harder to catch early on. It’s been common with children who have mild initial infections.

“Then about 2-4-6 weeks later is when we start to see the rise in the inflammation. They have malaise, generally tired, fevers, they may have a rash, abdominal pain and that’s what brings them in to seek care,” said Dr. Bernier.

She said the majority of children make a full recovery but it can be fatal.

“We’ve had 2 patients in the state of Maryland at least who’ve died of MIS-C,” said Bernier.

Because of the delta variant's impact on kids, places like Johns Hopkins are preparing to see even more pediatric patients with long-lasting symptoms.

Right now, there’s no way of knowing which children will develop MIS-C.

With steroids and other treatments, Morgan is doing much better but still occasionally has issues walking.

“She seems to be making hopefully a full recovery but every time we ask about the long term, they just say it’s just so new they just don’t know yet,” said Lauren.

Because of that, she’s turning her scary experience into a positive, working to convince people to get vaccinated to protect those who are vulnerable, like her and her sister.

“I think it’s just really important now because MIS-C’s coming up and COVID’s just bad. So I’m doing this because I want people to get the vaccine. I already convinced one of my family members,” said Morgan.

This story was originally reported by Abby Isaacs on wmar2news.com.