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Army Hospital Helps Child With Rare COVID-19 Complication

March 12, 2021 | BY Jane Lee, Martin Army Community Hospital

"It was scary, but I knew I wasn't going to lose him." A mother's faith sustained her through the most terrifying week of her life, as her 10-year-old son fought off a rare but serious COVID-19 complication in the pediatric intensive care unit in Fort Benning, Georgia.

Army Spc. Olubisi Abisoye's son, Enoch, woke her up in the early hours of Friday, Feb. 12, saying he did not feel well.

"Something's wrong, something's definitely wrong," Enoch said. "My body was too hot, my head was spinning as if something had just hit me in the head. I wouldn't normally wake someone up at 5 a.m. unless it was an emergency, so it was an emergency."

A family wearing personal protective equipment poses for a photo inside a hospital.
Abisoye Family
Army Spc. Olubisi Abisoye and her son, Enoch, and husband, Matthew, visit Martin Army Community Hospital after providers treated her son for MIS-C, a rare COVID-19 complication.
Photo By: Jane Lee, Martin Army Community Hospital
VIRIN: 210305-A-DA014-1001

Abisoye treated her fifth grader with Tylenol for his headache and fever, and Pepto Bismol for his upset stomach. But when he wasn't feeling any better by 2 p.m., she brought him to the emergency department at Martin Army Community Hospital (BMACH).

The entire family had tested positive for COVID-19 in January, but have since recovered. The doctors still needed to rule it out due to Enoch's symptoms. Thankfully, the nasal swab for COVID-19 came back negative. So did the tests for flu and strep. When his 103 degree fever finally broke around 10 p.m., the doctors discharged him.

Abisoye said her son seemed fine over the weekend, but started complaining of a headache again on Monday. This time, she also noticed rashes. When he started throwing up Monday night, she thought it best to make an appointment to see his primary care manager. Since Enoch was suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, they took him to the Pediatric Respiratory Urgent Care Clinic.

Army Capt. Brandon Pye, a PRUCC provider, quickly assessed the child's symptoms and rushed him to the emergency department.

"His vital signs were so abnormal. His blood pressure was low," Pye said. "His heart rate was markedly elevated. He was lying down with his eyes closed, not spontaneously talking or moving a lot."

Enoch's mom credits this early intervention and the BMACH staff for saving her child's life.

"Within a few hours, his vital signs just started dropping," Abisoye said. "It was bad. He got everybody scared. He was in so much pain; he was crying and yelling. Luckily we had wonderful people on shift that day. They had ten people attending to him to make sure he was okay."

A young boy poses for a photo inside a hospital.
Enoch Abisoye
Enoch Abisoye, a fifth grader, is all smiles at Martin Army Community Hospital after recovering from MIS-C, a rare COVID-19 complication.
Photo By: Jane Lee, Martin Army Community Hospital
VIRIN: 210305-A-DA014-1006

Now began the process to find out exactly what was wrong.

"They had to send his blood to the lab for examination. They did an MRI. The first one that came back was his COVID-19, and he tested positive."

Turns out Enoch had developed a rare but serious complication associated with COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. The CDC does not know what causes the rare complication, but since mid-May 2020 has reported a spike of 2617 cases. What they do know is more than half the reported cases of MIS-C, 59%, are in males and most are in children and teenagers between the ages of one and 14. The CDC said MIS-C has also disproportionately affected children who are Hispanic, Latino or Black.

"The doctors discovered he had inflammation in different organs. I was really scared," Abisoye said. "He was having difficulty breathing, so they gave oxygen and epinephrine to him to help him… because at that time, he couldn't really breathe."

BMACH reached out to children's hospitals in both Atlanta and Auburn, only to be told their beds were full and couldn't take any critical COVID-19 patients. Fortunately, Children's of Alabama in Birmingham had beds and were already treating patients with MIS-C.

"Because of the urgency of the situation, they had to bring the helicopter to take him over there," Abisoye said. "They took him to the pediatric ICU in Birmingham around 11 p.m."

With her son medevaced to Birmingham, Abisoye took off on the solitary three hour drive.

"The drive was not the problem for me. The problem for me was I was so anxious to see him," shared Abisoye. "I'm not a medical person. I don't know what to expect. I don't know what's the worst that can happen. So that feeling of uncertainty of things scared me."

Abisoye said she prayed all through that night, and the following nights.

"I didn't get to see him until two or three in the morning. When I got to his room, as soon as I opened the door, he was half asleep. He opened his eyes, and he squeezed my hands."

A female nurse in personal protective equipment works at her desk.
Tami Story
Tami Story, a Martin Army Community Hospital pediatric nurse case manager, helps coordinate care for families like the Abisoyes whose 10-year-old son recently suffered a rare and serious COVID-19 complication.
Photo By: Jane Lee, Martin Army Community Hospital
VIRIN: 210305-A-DA014-1003

Tami Story, BMACH nurse care manager, said two infusions of immunoglobulin finally stopped Enoch's body from attacking itself. Enoch was so sick, he wasn't even able to get out of bed until Thursday. The nurses were afraid of him falling.

"At least I wasn't as shaky," Enoch said. "So I could go to the bathroom and walk back and forth. I wasn't scared. I remember seeing all the beautiful lights during the helicopter ride."

"My greatest fear was the side effects. When this year started, God didn't tell me I was going to lose my child. I knew he was going to make it, but I didn't know what MIS-C was. Because COVID-19 is so new, the doctors can't really say this is what happened 20 years ago, and this is how we deal with it. And this is what we should do. So that 'IF' was the big problem for me as a mom."

Enoch was discharged from Children's of Alabama on Saturday, Feb. 20. He is on the mend, but must have more blood work done and see a rheumatologist in Birmingham to watch for inflammation and any long-term damage.