A Steuben County family shares details of health scare
HORNELL — A Steuben County boy is out of the hospital and on the road to recovery after a brush with a newly discovered syndrome that is possibly tied to the novel coronavirus.
Nine-year-old Bobby Dean is believed to be the first child in the area to be diagnosed with pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome, which is being linked to at least three deaths and 85 cases statewide.
Bobby and his parents, Amber and Michael, were back at their home Sunday night. They said Bobby’s condition is improving, which Amber said is a positive step in what was otherwise a tough week.
She said the problems started last Sunday, as Bobby began throwing up and could not keep down any fluids or food.
As his condition worsened into Monday, he was taken to the emergency room at St. James Hospital in Hornell. From there, he visited his doctor and was given a test for both strep throat and COVID-19. By Tuesday morning, Bobby had continued to deteriorate and began to experience excruciating pain.
The Deans took Bobby to Golisano Children’s Hospital in Rochester.
He tested positive for the virus and was put into the pediatric intensive care unit, or PICU. At the time, he was severely dehydrated and had a rapid heart rate.
“It’s not easy to have your kid hooked up to machines,” Amber said. “It’s been pretty much a roller coaster. The first half of it was all concern for him because we did have a lot of emotion and concern as to whether he was going to pull through.”
A few days later, Bobby tested negative for the virus, but his condition was still poor. That’s when doctors told Amber they believed Bobby had the syndrome, which has symptoms similar to Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome.
While the syndrome is new, doctors believe COVID-19 may be triggering an overreaction of the immune system in some children like Bobby. In total, he spent five days in the hospital.
Amber said her family had been quarantined for two weeks after they were exposed to the virus in early April. She said her sister, who was staying with the family, works at Hornell Gardens nursing home and likely brought the virus home.
She said her symptoms were relatively mild, but Bobby “got the worst of it.” Amber and Michael’s other two children are quarantining at a relatives’ home, as they had previously been staying there the last week. They’re expected to be back home sometime next week.
While Bobby’s condition is improving, Amber called the situation “scary” and said she would not advocate for parents to let their kids out in public. Looking ahead, she said Bobby will have to take a mix of medications for the next several weeks and will continue to be monitored. Right now, she said there’s concern over what possible long-term impact the syndrome could have on his heart.
“It was not a fun ride, but is definitely one that kind of taught us, you know, kids are susceptible to this, and it does hit them a little bit harder when they do get it,” Amber said.
Symptoms to look out for can include fever, red eyes, diarrhea, vomiting, rashes, inflammation, and, in some cases, even cardiac arrest.
“Pay attention,” Michael said. “If your child does show any stomach bugs or flu-like symptoms, don’t be afraid to reach out and look into it more. I’d hate to see them wait and hold off and have to go through what we went through.”