The month of December of last year has been real pain and struggle for R. Diven whose teenager son almost died of a post-Covid-19 syndrome triggered by a previous corona infection. According to the mother, neither the parents or the teenager knew he had contracted the virus before he developed the post-Covid syndrome called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children [MIS-C].
Diven took her 16-year-old son Branson to urgent care for the first time on December 10 after had been vomiting and had lost his appetite. The boy didn’t have a sore throat or a cough, like with most Covid cases, and he was sent home after receiving a negative test. However, the boy’s condition worsened as the days went by and the mother decided to take him to hospital once again.
Branson was taken to the urgent care and examined again on December 16. “We walk in the door and she (the family nurse practitioner) says, ‘I don’t know what this is but it’s not the flu,’” said Diven, as Branson was previously diagnosed with the flu on his first visit. From there, they were sent to another hospital where the boy once again tested negative on Covid-19.
After short examination, the doctors from the second hospital decided to transfer Branson to one of the best pediatric facilities in the United States located in South Carolina, MUSC Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital. “As soon as they said they were going to call the helicopter, I knew it was pretty serious,” said the boy’s mother.
Once they arrived in the third hospital, Branson was once again tested for Covid-19 and his test, again, came negative. But MUSC doctors found that he had antibodies from an infection called multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children [MIS-C]. This post-Covid-19 syndrome can come in recovered Covid-19 patients from several weeks to several months after the infection, even in asymptomatic cases.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. The MIS-C syndrome cases spiked since the start of the pandemic almost two years ago.
Because the number of MIS-C cases didn’t drastically increase with the Delta variant in place last year, doctors and health experts hoped the same will happen with the highly contagious Omicron variant and it won’t trigger this syndrome at the peak of the Omicron wave. When Branson arrived at the hospital, the doctors checked an inflammation marker called ferritin in the teen. Normal levels are between 40 and 200.
“His was 80,000,” said Diven. The disorder had attacked the boy’s heart, kidneys and liver. “They said he probably would not have woken up Friday morning if I hadn’t taken him in Thursday night,” Diven said to The Daily Beast who brought the story to the light of the day late January. “He was going fast.”
Branson spent the next five days on ventilator support as he received 24-hour dialysis. His parents remained next to him in hospital for all the time being, but the teenager doesn’t remember anything. The boy hadn’t been vaccinated and his mother said that her opinion on the importance of the jab has been “definitely changed.”
The boy was taken off the ventilator support just before Christmas and he was able to spend the holiday with his parents and younger sisters at the hospital. His condition improved and he was discharged from hospital on December 30 just on time to celebrate the New Year at the family’s home. His continued his treatment with several prescribed medications.
Dr. Elizabeth Mack, chief of pediatric critical care at Shawn Jenkins, released the results of the study in January. “The bottom line is MIS-C is a vaccine-preventable disease,” said Mack. The study found that the one MIS-C patient who was on a ventilator as of January 20 is also unvaccinated. Of the 61 children currently hospitalized for Covid included six who are vaccinated, 28 were unvaccinated, and 26 who are too young to receive the vaccine.
“People are worried about the risks of a vaccine,” said Mack. “What they often don’t consider as a risk of disease…We know the risks of the disease and we know the risks of MIS-C. So, I think the risk ratio is certainly in favor of vaccination.”