Mum issues warning after 11-year-old son becomes critically ill from rare Covid side effect

“When Cooper started to feel unwell a month after having Covid it didn’t occur to me that the two could be linked”

A mum has issued a warning after her 11-year-old son became critically ill from a rare side effect of Covid seen in children.

Pippa Crook, 38, said her son Cooper Hayton tested positive for coronavirus and had a symptomless infection.

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But four weeks later he developed an uncontrollable fever, lost his appetite, became lethargic and complained of pain below his left rib, as well as stomach pains.

Cooper diagnosed with rare condition

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

However, medics at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary established he had developed Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS).

The rare condition occurs in less than 0.5% of children who have had Covid 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.

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

He was given three nights of antibiotics, 24 hours of immunoglobulins and three nights of steroids to suppress his immune system in hospital.

‘As a mother you feel great guilt for not knowing’

Pippa, of Milnthorpe, Cumbria, said: "When Cooper started to feel unwell a month after having Covid it didn’t occur to me that the two could be linked.

"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."

After six nights in hospital - including three in an intensive care unit - he was able to return home.

Thankfully, Cooper has made an excellent recovery and there appears to be no long-term heart damage following an echocardiogram and ECG.

The youngster, who is in year 7 at school, still needs regular heart check-ups and now Pippa wants to raise awareness of the condition.

‘Trust your instincts if something is wrong with your 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."

And she urged other mums: "Trust your instincts if something is wrong with your child."

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 added: "Between February 2020 and February 2021, there were 712 recorded cases of PIMS in the UK.

"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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