Mother Speaks Out After Daughter’s Close Call with MIS-C and COVID-19
Natalie Torrez was a healthy, 4-year-old girl. She loved junk food and playing with her siblings. Her mother, Alyssa Salazar, says that all of that changed overnight.
“It started as a normal sickness. It was a fever, she looked pale and she was very tired and all she wanted to do was sleep,” Salazar said.
Natalie had gone to her pediatrician twice and was sent home with the diagnosis of “something viral.” Knowing the little girl was not getting better, Salazar’s family urged her to take Natalie back to the emergency room. That’s where they learned she was severely ill.
The hospital knew Natalie needed a higher level of care, so they called Teddy Bear Transport, which took her via ambulance to Cook Children’s Medical Center. From that point on, her mother knew it would be a long road ahead.
“One of the doctors turned to me and told me, your daughter is very sick and we see inflammation in her heart and she may need to be placed on the heart transplant list,” Salazar said.
Little did Alyssa know, her daughter was suffering from a rare, but serious condition. At Cook Children’s, Natalie tested positive for COVID-19 and her family later learned she had multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C). Her doctor, infectious diseases pediatrician Marc Mazade, M.D., says he is happy Natalie got to Cook Children’s when she did.
“MIS-C stands for multi inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 and it is a hyper immune response to the COVID-19 virus infection. It usually happens sometime between two and four weeks after the infection and the infection doesn’t have to be symptomatic,” Dr. Mazade said.
Natalie had been exposed to COVID-19 a month before she started showing any symptoms. When Natalie got to Cook Children’s, her blood pressure was low. Her care team gave her fluids and could tell she needed to be admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU). Because Natalie had MIS-C, advanced treatment was required by a team of specialists familiar with the newly-described condition.
After five days at Cook Children’s, Natalie was sent home to recover. Thankfully, she didn’t need a heart transplant, however, her mom says COVID-19 is real and impacts everyone differently. She and her family are living proof.
“It could have ended differently if we didn’t take her in that third time. I feel like she probably could have died. I would have brought her home thinking I was going to be helping her, and the whole time I was going to be watching her die,” Salazar said.
Dr. Mazade hopes this is a teachable moment for all parents.
“If parents see those things developing or they know also know there is a history of COVID-19 infection within a close contact or a family member, then they should be highly suspicious of MIS-C,” Dr. Mazade said.