‘My nightmare’: Mom recalls 1-year-old’s battle with COVID-19
OMAHA, Neb. (KETV) - A 1-year-old boy with Down syndrome is recovering after he spent a month in the hospital on a ventilator fighting COVID-19.
As mother Amy Crosby drove from South Dakota to Nebraska’s Children’s Hospital Omaha, she wondered if she’d be driving back without her 1-year-old son, Crue Crosby. The infant, who has Down syndrome, tested positive for COVID-19 in December.
“They just said, ‘He’s very ill, Amy. We will do the best we can to make him come home with you,’” Crosby said. “I just didn’t know what our future was going to hold.”
Crosby quickly learned it would be a future filled with tubes, wires and lots of questions. She and her husband were shocked when they learned of Crue’s diagnosis because they had taken extreme precautions since his birth.
“What’s best? What’s not best? Are we doing everything that we can? Did we do everything that we can? How did we catch it?” Crosby said.
Crue’s parents are vaccinated against the virus, but kids under 5 can’t get vaccinated yet.
Dr. Sharon Stoolman, a pediatrician at Children’s, says it’s impossible to live in a bubble, especially with community transmission so high.
“We are seeing a burden of the illness disproportionately on those younger kids,” she said. “Some children with special needs have a low immune response to infections in the first place.”
For those kids, wearing a mask can be challenging, too. If the adults around them are not taking precautions, the kids are extra susceptible to the virus.
Crue’s history of open heart surgery and a rare immune disease made COVID so much scarier, his mother says. He needed specialized care, which is why they traveled hours to Omaha.
“We got a nasty taste of it, and it was awful. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Crosby said.
For a while, the family wasn’t sure if the journey had been worthwhile, as the hospital had a bed but no nurse available. A nurse stepped up to take an extra shift.
In the month Crue was intubated, intensive care unit beds for children have only become harder and harder to come by.
“Every day, it’s an interesting discussion on how do we make sure that we can care for all the kids that are sick in the community,” Stoolman said. “I think we’re in the eye of the storm.”
For Crue, that storm is finally subsiding. He was taken off a ventilator this week, but there’s a long road to recovery ahead.
“What exactly happened was my nightmare, my worst dream that I thought could ever happen,” Crosby said.
But the 1-year-old’s mother is just grateful she’ll be taking the journey home with her son in the back seat.
“I just want to grab him and snuggle him and kiss him and just tell him how proud I am of him, which I tell him that all the time,” Crosby said.
Last year, Children’s had about one or two kids per week with COVID-19, Stoolman says. In mid-January of this year, there were 18 kids in their hospital with the virus.
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