Five-year-old hospitalised with Covid-linked illness

Five-year-old hospitalised with Covid-linked illness

Tommy O'Neill, 5, was hospitalised with Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS TS), which has been linked to Covid-19 in children.

The family of a very ill five-year-old boy say they want to raise awareness of a dangerous inflammatory condition linked to Covid, after their child was hospitalised last week.

Last Thursday, Tommy O'Neill from Dublin was taken to Tallaght hospital after becoming unwell.

However, the little boy was not admitted overnight and his family were told he had a viral infection.

"Nobody knew what it was... the only information we could find was on Google," said Bernie Brennan, Tommy's grandmother.

Tommy initially had a high temperature which wouldn't go down, then he was vomiting and had diarrhea.

The five-year-old was admitted to Crumlin Children's Hospital on Friday and his blood test indicated his inflammatory markers were very high.

He then got a heart scan and was taken to ICU, according to Ms Brennan.

It was discovered he had Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PIMS TS), which has been linked to Covid-19 in children.

Ms Brennan said she wants to raise awareness about the condition. "PIMS affects the organs. The arteries in the heart get dilated, and all the organs in the body become inflamed."

Thankfully, Tommy turned a corner on Wednesday night and is improving slowly. "He's still so weak, they are going to try and get him to walk soon."

Ms Brennan added there are other children with PIMS in Crumlin. "The doctors and nurses are just amazing. I don't know how they are still standing."

She is also worried that many children with PIMS won't be included in the official statistics and data on Covid. Tommy never displayed typical Covid symptoms so he was never tested, and he also didn't test positive while he was in hospital.

Ms Brennan said the doctors think his initial Covid infection had passed by the time he came to Crumlin.

She said she would chain herself to the Dáil once Tommy comes out of hospital, in a bid to raise awareness about the condition.

"If I have to tattoo PIMS on my forehead I will. I want every parent in Ireland to know about this."

In a statement, a spokesperson for Children's Health Ireland (CHI) said since the start of the pandemic, there have been 32 children known to CHI who had symptoms of PIMS.

"All of these children have recovered and a small number remain as in-patients receiving treatment.

"The number of children currently in Paediatric ICU with PIMS-TS is less than five, therefore we cannot provide the number as it has the potential to identify a patient. They remain as in-patients receiving treatment and have plans for discharge soon."

The spokesperson said the majority of these patients did not have Covid symptoms at the time of hospital presentation, but many did have a history of exposure to Covid or were previously infected with the virus.

The spokesperson also said that PIMS TS has been widely recognised as a complication of Covid infection, and the risk of PIMS was highlighted to all Irish paediatricians by the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland last year.

"Paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome temporally associated with Covid-19 (PIMS-TS) is a hyper-inflammatory syndrome that has been described in children occurring in the aftermath of either exposure to/infection with Covid-19.

"Children typically present with a persistent fever, rash, red eyes (conjunctivitis), and often with abdominal symptoms, in particular crampy abdominal pain and diarrhoea."

The spokesperson added that some of these cases resemble a previously described medical condition known as Kawasaki disease, which shares many of the same features.

"The severity of PIMS-TS can vary. Some children require very little support. Some children have more severe disease with inflammation of the heart muscles and the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart.

"These patients require more intensive support including medications to suppress the inflammation, control temperature and support the patient’s heart and blood pressure."

CHI advised that parents and guardians who have a child with these symptoms should go to their local Emergency Department.

Up to 100 children a week are being hospitalised with PIMS in the UK, according to data gathered by the Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust in London.

According to the UK-based Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, PIMS seems to occur two to four weeks after a child has Covid.

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