Parents Mourn 7-Year-Old Daughter Who Died of COVID Less Than 72 Hours After Testing Positive

"It was just so fast," Adalyn Graviss’ dad Adam said. “Hours before going to the hospital, she was running in the front yard"

Adalyn Graviss
Adalyn Graviss. Photo: GoFundMe

The parents of 7-year-old Adalyn Graviss are mourning the loss of their daughter, who died less than 72 hours after testing positive for COVID-19.

Adalyn, a second grader from Knoxville, Tennessee, died Feb. 7 after developing a severe neurological response to the virus.

"She was just a happy, healthy, normal, beautiful soul," her mom, Jennifer, told Good Morning America. "She was just so sweet, an amazing kid."

Adalyn, who hadn't yet been vaccinated against COVID-19, had felt fine until the morning of Friday, Feb. 4, when she told her parents she felt hot. They took her temperature, which was 102, and had her take an at-home COVID-19 test that came back positive.

Adalyn stayed home from school that day and was well enough to play in the front yard, when "all of a sudden" she became severely sick, Jennifer told Knox News, and was struggling to walk or speak.

"It was right around the nine o'clock hour when we noticed her speech was all but gone, though she was still responding to us," said Adam told GMA. "By 10 o'clock, I was in the emergency room [with her], and she was unresponsive at that point."

"It was just so fast," he added. "Hours before going to the hospital, she was running in the front yard."

At Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville, doctors immediately put Adalyn on an ECMO machine, a lifesaving device that pumps and a patient's blood outside the body to add oxygen and is often the last solution for severely sick COVID-19 patients.

"Even while it was happening, it didn't seem real," Adam said. "Her levels were improving and then she just took a turn for the worse."

Doctors determined that Adalyn had a severe case of COVID-19 that had progressed to severe myocarditis, inflammation of the heart, and a rare neurological condition called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), where an infection like COVID-19 triggers inflammation of the brain and spinal cord and damages neurological function.

"They think her body was attacked," Jennifer told Knox News.

On Monday, just two days after she was admitted to the hospital, Adalyn died.

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Doctors speculate that her severe reaction to COVID-19 could possibly be connected to her Raynaud's syndrome, a common condition in which parts of the body feel numb in response to cold temperatures and stress.

But Adalyn's sudden death "is a big reason of why we don't roll the dice on a virus like this," one of her doctors, pediatric infectious disease expert Dr. Isaac Thomsen, told GMA. "This is not something to mess around with."

"The takeaway for parents is this is a virus that we have got to take very seriously and one we have a safe and effective vaccine for," he added.

Jennifer and Adam had been considering taking Adalyn to get her COVID-19 vaccine after she became eligible in November, but held off and continued to follow safety precautions like wearing masks and washing their hands. Adalyn was particularly diligent about wearing her mask at school for her little sister Ella, who had been born just a few days earlier on Jan. 28.

"If a kid was coughing she would ask to be moved because she didn't want baby Ella to get it," Jennifer said.

Adalyn had been thrilled for Ella's arrival.

"She waited for years to be a big sister," Jennifer said. "Every night she would pray for God to give her a baby to be a big sister, and that's what we're so thankful for, that she was able to experience that for five days."

Adam said that he knows Adalyn will be watching over Ella.

"She's going to have the coolest guardian angel looking over her, protecting her."

One of Adalyn's former teachers has created a GoFundMe for the Graviss family, found here.

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