COVID-19 disproportionately impacts older people but in some children, such as Alyssa Simons, the virus can potentially cause a fatal condition.
Officials have been warning parents about Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, also referred to as MIS-C. It causes inflammation in various parts of the body, and while it’s unclear what causes the disease, many children with it either had COVID-19 or were around someone who tested positive.
One of those children was Alyssa Simons of North Carolina. Simons and her family tested positive for COVID-19 in March, according to WSOC, and she was largely asymptomatic. However, she started complaining about stomach and back pains, and after she collapsed, her parents called 911.
She was diagnosed with MIS-C and spent 10 days in a hospital but was released because she seemed to be getting better. Unfortunately, she started complaining about the pains again after she was back home and her mother told her she’d take her back to the hospital in the morning.
“I woke up and checked on her and she was already gone,” Shernett Reevey, her mother, told WSOC.
MIS-C is a rare condition that causes the inflammation of the heart, lungs, kidney, brain or gastrointestinal organs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There have been 4,196 confirmed cases of MIS-C since June 28 and the CDC reported 37 of those children died. The median age is 9 and half of the cases involve children between 5 and 13.
Symptoms include abdominal pain, chest tightness, bloodshot eyes, diarrhea, headache, neck pain, vomiting and low blood pressure, and parents are advised to contact their doctor immediately if they notice these in their child.
Nickey Stamey’s son Rohen, 12, was hospitalized a month after testing positive for COVID-19 and experiencing few symptoms. At the time, she had “no idea what was happening” and had never heard of MIS-C until he was hospitalized.
“His heart began to get fluid around the pericardium sac and some of the tissue was breaking down. He could not breathe,” she told TODAY. “He was on the highest level of oxygen.”
Rohen, like most children, recovered and was able to return home, but his mother, as well as Simons’ aunt, urge parents to be on alert and the country to take COVID-19 seriously.
“COVID-19 is not over,” Yolanda Johnson, Simons’ aunt, told WSOC. “We haven’t stopped crying since we lost her, but if our story will help save another child’s life, then it makes all the difference in the world. Early detection, reconsider the vaccine, it’s available.”