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Savannah 12-year-old experiences inflammation from COVID-19

Published: Aug. 16, 2021 at 5:49 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - It’s a rare complication some doctors only read about, but for a local pediatrician, she lived it with her 12-year-old son.

What started out as a mild case of COVID-19 later became two emergency surgeries because of inflammation.

Since the start of the pandemic, Dr. Adria Wilkes has been serving pediatric patients. But she never guessed how close COVID would hit her home.

“My son had COVID back in January, just like many kids he had a very mild case, probably about 12-24 hours of fatigue abdominal pain and a little bit of headache, but then about three weeks later he developed some long-term complications,” Dr. Wilkes said.

Andrew presented with appendicitis to start and quickly had surgery, but days later continued to have severe abdominal pain. Doctors worked to figure out what was wrong with the 12-year-old when a CT showed a blockage which led to another surgery.

“Well, I didn’t think I was going to have surgery. I thought I was just going to get better and then when I learned I was going to get surgery, I didn’t feel so good,” Andrew said.

They learned Andrew had a condition called intussusception in a different location than the appendicitis. Two sperate GI diseases secondary to inflammation from COVID. While Dr. Wilkes admits what happened to her son is rare, it’s a lesson.

“I do think that we constantly have to monitor him for any signs of recurrence of anything, but I think that we learned a lot and that this virus can do so many things that we just aren’t sure about and it’ a constantly evolving process,” Dr. Wilkes said.

While Andrew is better today and ready to return to school Tuesday, he’s listening to how people talk about COVID.

“If they say like it’s not really that bad and stuff that kind of annoys me because like it is that bad. And I think everybody should like, get the vaccine, so we don’t have to like keep wearing masks and stuff,” Andrew said.

After his scary encounter with COVID, Andrew says it was a priority for him to be vaccinated.

“I was excited to get it because I didn’t want to get COVID again. I don’t want to have surgery again,” he said.

As his mom continues to see and treat pediatric patients, she’s not only sharing their COVID story, but their vaccine story knowing it’s the key.

“We want to make sure that we are educating them because there is a lot of misinformation that is out there, even though the vaccine is relatively new the technology to make this vaccine has been going on for over 20 years and the vaccine, as far as long term side effects, no we haven’t had this for a long time, but the vaccine is really out of your system in a few days,” Dr. Wilkes said.

She says she speaks not only as a physician, but as a mom who understands the challenges this pandemic poses.

Memorial Health and the children’s hospital said Monday they have seven pediatric and neonatal COVID admissions. They say it’s unclear at this time if there is more inflammatory disease than previously, but they have continued to treat rare cases of MIS-C though it does not appear to be increasing from the Delta variant.

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