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COVID Is Sending Little Kids to Hospitals, But Well After They’ve Contracted The Virus

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Michelle Elkhoury has spent the last year trying to protect her two young children from COVID-19. Last month, she spent six days with her four-year-old in the intensive care unit (ICU) as doctors treated Juliana weeks after she already recovered from the virus.

“We had a perfectly healthy, active four-year-old, who we tried to really protect from COVID,” Elkhoury told The Liberty Buzz. “Watching her having to be sedated because they were putting in multiple IVs and [watching] her get a blood transfusion, it was a lot. it was really hard.”

Young people are beginning to replace older populations in COVID hospitalizations, especially in Michigan, where a more transmissible U.K. variant has dominated the number of coronavirus cases.

This week, the state hit a record high for the number of children hospitalized with either confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.

Doctors have identified two types of coronavirus hospital admissions in children. There are kids who are admitted with an acute COVID infection—the same type of fever, cough or pneumonia seen in adults. These cases are more common and typically seen in older children and teenagers.

Then there are hospitalizations, predominately in young children, where Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) is diagnosed. In most of these cases, parents have been left frustrated and confused as pediatricians struggle to figure out why kids aren’t responsive to other medications, but continue to test negative for COVID-19.

A photo of the Elkhoury family, from left to right: 4-year-old Juliana, dad, John, mom, Michelle, and their other daughter.
Michelle Elkhoury

Juliana was the 99th case Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak has seen during the pandemic.

“The doctor had told us that they were seeing patients come in, pretty much, on a weekly basis, which is why when we went in, they were pretty confident,” Elkhoury said. “They kept talking about this MIS-C and that she had COVID. My husband and I, the whole time, were kind of like, ‘Well, she didn’t have COVID.'”

Even though she hasn’t started pre-school, Juliana understood what was happening to her. She had caught “the bad germs.”

“One night she said to my husband, ‘I know that I’m in the hospital because I caught the bad germs,’ because we would always say, ‘Well we have to wear a mask because there’s bad germs,” Elkhoury said.

Her dad, John, told The Liberty Buzz, “She would have moments of clarity where she was herself and on the second or third day she was in there, she was herself briefly and she said, ‘Daddy, I know I got the germs. I just can’t wait to go home.'”

Juliana’s latest visit to the cardiologist shows that her heart function has returned to standard levels and her blood work has come back normal. A week after returning home from the hospital, she returned to her day-to-day activities.

But her mom still worries about what lies ahead, given that the virus is so new and long-term effects could be possible.

“The doctors don’t know for sure. I mean, they’re reassured that things look good right now, but we don’t know in 10 years or 15 years or even in one year,” Elkhoury said. “We don’t know if she were to get COVID again, once her antibodies were off, is this gonna happen again? If she gets a normal flu or some other type of virus, is something going to trigger in her body to react like this? We don’t know.”

“In the back of my mind, I’m worried that we’ll never know. But right now, today, I’m happy and we’re home and she’s with us, so I’ve just kind of focused on that,” she added.

Elkhoury’s advice to other parents whose children may be experiencing similar symptoms is to seek medical treatment right away, rather than hope for symptoms to go away on their own.

Freij says the most common symptoms of MIS-C tend to be fever, skin disease, like rashes, and abdominal pain, including vomiting and diarrhea.

“Emergency room physicians and pediatric offices are all super vigilant now. They’re on the lookout for this. They’re afraid of it, so they jump on any patient who may have that problem,” he said. “The medical facilities are totally on the lookout for these [cases]. Parents just have to not dismiss the symptoms and seek attention. Hopefully, it’s just something else, but you won’t know until you do an evaluation.”

“If they seek care early and their child is diagnosed promptly, then we have medications, and despite a really rough ride initially, [these] kids will still have a great likelihood of recovering and recovering well,” Freij added.

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