Grieving mom warns about rare COVID complication affecting kids


  • A mom is urging parents to look out for symptoms of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) after her teen son succumbed to the disease.
  • MIS-C, or PIMS, is a rare, life-threatening syndrome that has been linked to COVID-19, including asymptomatic cases.
  • The complication can be fatal but is treatable following early detection.

A grieving mom is urging parents to look out for early signs of a rare COVID-19 complication that affects kids, saying that her 16-year-old son passed away about a week after reporting symptoms.

Lorena Navarrete, a nurse technician and single mother from the southern Chilean city of Puerto Montt, told the TVN network that her son Emilio complained of fatigue and leg pain in late January. After a few days, he developed a high fever, vomited, and had dark urine and livid blotches on his skin.

Their city’s hospital was overrun at the time with severe COVID cases. Emilio was tested for COVID multiple times but the results always came back negative.

It was too late by the time he was diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), or PIMS, which is a rare, life-threatening syndrome that has been linked to COVID-19.

Health protocols prevented Lorena from staying beside her son. The mother and son had to relay messages to a social worker.

Lorena recalled, “A doctor said that if I had faith, I should pray because my son was very ill.”

The symptoms of PIMS can manifest even in asymptomatic cases of COVID-19, about two to six weeks after infection.

It has symptoms similar to those of Kawasaki disease and toxic shock: rashes, fever, swollen glands, conjunctivitis, and, in severe cases, heart inflammation. It can lead to multiple organ failure. It can be treated following early detection.

The problem lies with the detection, since “there is no single exam,” explains pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Loreto Twele. “You have to put the pieces together to be able to make an early diagnosis and start treatment.”

The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been looking into whether COVID variants have affected the prevalence or severity of the complication.

According to Chilean public health chief Paula Daza, 157 cases of MIS-C were reported among the 69,563 confirmed COVID cases in children in the country. Daza urged health officials to remain alert despite the relatively low rate of the complication.

Now, Lorena hopes to raise awareness of COVID-linked MIS-C.

She said, “I do not want Emilio’s death to be in vain and for this to be known so that the same thing does not happen to other parents.”



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