My son nearly died from Covid side-effect I had no clue even existed

WHEN little Cooper Hayton tested positive for coronavirus, he luckily suffered a symptom-free infection.

But weeks later the 11-year-old became critically ill from a rare side effect of the virus seen in children.

Mum Pippa Crook explained that it was four weeks after Cooper tested positive for Covid that he developed an uncontrollable fever.

The 38-year-old said her son also experienced a loss of appetite, became lethargic and complained of pain below his left rib, as well as stomach pains.

She took him to the GP who suspected Cooper had sepsis and called an ambulance to take him to the hospital.

But medics at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary soon established he'd developed Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS).

The rare condition occurs in less than 0.5 per cent of children who have had Covid-19 and only 1 to 5 per 100,000 children infected require hospital admission from the condition.

Cooper's high temperature continued and he developed a blotchy rash over his body, his face became swollen and he had deep red lips and bloodshot eyes.

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An ultrasound showed he also had an inflamed stomach and enlarged spleen.

Cooper, who lives in Milnthorpe, Cumbria with his family, was given three nights of antibiotics, 24 hours of immunoglobulins and three nights of steroids to suppress his immune system in hospital.

Pippa said that when Cooper started to feel unwell a month after Covid, it hadn’t occurred to her that the two illnesses could be linked.

She said: "As a mother you feel great guilt for not knowing. Yet if there was more awareness of PIMS-TS maybe I would have recognised the symptoms.

"Children have been left with long term heart damage because they were dismissed or misdiagnosed so many times before receiving treatment.

"Children can die from this condition."

Cooper was able to return home after spending six nights in hospital, three of which were in intensive care.

He has thankfully suffered no long-term damage, but has to have regular heart checkups.

What are the symptoms of PIMS?

The main symptom of PIMS, according to Great Ormond Street Hospital, is:

  • a high temperature that lasts for a few days.

Your child might also have other symptoms such as:

  • A rash
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Tummy pain or cramps
  • Red and cracked lips
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Peeling skin on your hands and feet
  • Headache
  • Red eyes
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Unexplained irritability

These symptoms are different to the coronavirus, which causes:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Fatigue, a headache, sore throat and loss of appetite are also common in children with Covid, according to the Zoe COVID Symptom Study app

His mum Pippa now wants to raise awareness of the condition and says parents should trust their instincts if they think there is something wrong with their child.

She added: "I know we were the lucky ones. I wouldn't want any child or parent to go through what we went through."

Official NHS guidance says that PIMS can develop 4-6 weeks after having Covid.

Symptoms can include a prolonged fever, tummy ache, diarrhoea, vomiting, widespread red rash, red bloodshot eyes, strawberry red tongue, red cracked lips.

Others include swelling of fingers and toes or not feeling or acting like themselves.

Pippa said that between February 2020 and February 2021, there were 712 recorded cases of PIMS in the UK.

She added: "In a similar period of time between February 2019 and February 2020, there were 461 recorded cases of bacterial meningitis in the UK.

"Meningitis, whilst rare, is widely publicised – as it should be – and most people are aware of the symptoms. So why isn't the same being done for PIMS?

"I am pushing for the government to increase public awareness of PIMS-TS and its symptoms, to publish case numbers, and to ensure the correct diagnostic and treatment protocols are circulated to all medical settings."

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