COLORADO SPRINGS — “To be honest, I saw it, and I thought my kids are healthy, my kids won’t get this, it won’t happen to me.”
A Colorado Springs mother shares her story with FOX21 News about almost losing her son to a rare reaction to COVID-19 that doctors say they are now seeing more of in Colorado.
Like most parents with young children, Winona Bjork wasn’t too concerned with her kids contracting the coronavirus.
“While they do only have mild or asymptomatic illness if they get the virus, there are other things that can happen, unfortunately,” said Dr. Sara Saporta-Keating, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist for Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs.
One of those things is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children or MIS-C.
“It is the inflammatory response to the virus, and it’s presenting on average around four weeks after exposure to the virus,” said Saporta-Keating.
Winona Bjork said a few weeks ago her five year old son Brody started acting a little sick.
“He seemed a little more tired and started having a low-grade fever, but not terribly sick at first,” she said. “He was still playing video games with his brothers, still playing ball and running around the house, but just a little off.”
She said his symptoms quickly progressed though to include stomach pain and vomiting.
“He said I have to go to the bathroom and he kind of limped to the bathroom. And I was like ‘Oh honey, what’s wrong with your leg?’ and he said, ‘Mom, my leg hurts.’ And he had some diarrhea in the bathroom, and that’s when I really, really, got concerned.”
The next day she took him to Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs, where his symptoms got even worse. He was then sent to the Intensive Care Unit.
“He was doing pretty well and then progressed to a pretty high fever, very lethargic, very terrible rash, and the night we got transferred very pale, got white as a ghost, his lips got white, got this instant rash up his arms and up his neck, and that was a scary time,” said Bjork. “I actually thought we were going to lose him that night. It was very scary.”
Doctors said Brody had MIS-C, but in order to be diagnosed with MIS-C, there has to be evidence of past COVID-19 infection.
“They did a COVID test, and that came back negative; they also did an antibody test, and that came back positive, which we were surprised about that because we didn’t know he ever had COVID,” expressed Bjork.
She said no one in her house ever even showed symptoms of COVID-19.
“I think it’s important to remember that this is still rare,” said Saporta-Keating. She also added that while there has been an increase in MIS-C cases in Colorado, there’s no need for parents to panic.
“What we think we’re seeing right now in terms of the increase in cases is actually a reflection of the increased amount of COVID that we’ve seen in the state over the past couple months.”
To date, Children’s Colorado has identified what they believe are at least 20 cases of MIS-C, but those cases still need to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control.
“MIS-C is rare, so I don’t think that it’s helpful for parents to hear this and say ‘Oh my gosh, now I have to be really worried that my child is going to get this,'” said Saporta-Keating.
Instead, she said parents should focus on what they should already be doing.
“Practice good infection prevention practices,” said Saporta-Keating “So washing your hands, good mask-wearing, and social distancing when you can.”
After eight days in the hospital Brody was sent home on December 22nd, just in time for Christmas.
“It was just a Christmas miracle,” said Bjork. “We were so thankful. It was the best Christmas present we could ever ask for, and we had so much love for the whole community, and we’re forever grateful for that.”
It’s not clear if certain kids are at a higher risk for developing MIS-C than others, but Saporta-Keating said there is a team working to figure that out as well as what, if any, long term complications there might be from MIS-C.
The good news is Saporta-Keating said the majority of patients, including Brody, are recovering quite well.