Mom of 9-Year-Old Boy with Coronavirus-Related Illness Warns Parents: 'It's a Scary Thing'

Amber Dean's son Bobby was hospitalized for pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome

Bobby Dean
Photo: Dean Family Photo via AP

New York mom Amber Dean is warning parents to take caution after her experience with the mysterious new coronavirus-related blood illness that has been seen in children across the United States.

After recovering from her own mild bout of the coronavirus, Amber's 9-year-old son Bobby began feeling ill in early May. Doctors eventually realized that the young boy was among the growing number of children with a mysterious inflammatory syndrome thought to be related to the virus.

“It’s a pretty scary thing, watching your child be hooked up to all these wires and IVs and there’s nothing you can do,” Amber told the Associated Press. “In my opinion, right now, I would not let your child out in public.”

The illness, currently called pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, presents similarly to Kawasaki disease, a rare but treatable condition that causes inflammation in blood vessels. It seems to affect the heart of those who may have been infected with COVID-19 but does not include the landmark symptoms: coughing and shortness of breath.

Amber recalled her son's painful struggle with the syndrome, telling the outlet that it started out as "nothing major," but quickly took a turn for the worse.

"At seemed like a tummy bug, like he ate something that didn’t agree with him,” Amber, who lives with her husband and three young children in Hornell, said. “But by the next day, he couldn’t keep anything down and his belly hurt so bad he couldn’t sit up.”

Bobby Dean
Bobby Dean. Dean Family Photo via AP

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During their first visit to a local hospital emergency room, doctors initially suspected an appendix infection and sent the family home with instructions to see Bobby's pediatrician.

Amber said they immediately called the doctor who performed a coronavirus test to see if the boy was suffering from the mysterious illness, but the results would take 24 hours. That same night Bobby's condition worsened.

Bobby Dean
The Dean Family. Dean Family Photo via AP

His fever had spiked, his heart was racing, his abdomen was swollen and he was severely dehydrated, his mother recalled. That's when her husband Michael Dean, decided to drive their son to Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester, 90 minutes away.

“At Rochester, they did a rapid COVID test and it came back positive,” Amber said.

Over the course of the next six days, she waited at Bobby's hospital bedside while he was hooked up to IV lines and a heart monitor. They finally discharged him on Mother's Day, May 10.

Bobby Dean
Bobby Dean. Dean Family Photo via AP

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state was investigating about 100 cases of the syndrome after announcing last week that a 5-year-old, 7-year-old and a teenager had died from the illness.

Symptoms include a prolonged fever lasting more than five days, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting, patchy blue or pale skin discoloration, trouble breathing or rapid breathing, lethargy and rapid heart rate.

However, NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres told Today that children can present with this mysterious syndrome up to six weeks after recovering from coronavirus. He also added that — although there is still much for doctors to learn about the condition — the death rate seems to be around 0.1 percent.

Dr. Anthony Fauci also addressed the syndrome while giving his testimony before a Senate committee on Tuesday, warning that this was not something to take lightly.

“I think we better be very careful that we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects," Fauci said, according to the AP.

As Bobby recovers, Amber said she's taking extra precaution in looking for signs of the illness in her younger children, aged 7 months and 3 years, as well.

“It never affected his respiratory system, it was his heart that it affected,” Amber explained of Bobby. “They’re hoping he pulls through with 100% recovery but they said there have been children with lasting effects.”

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