‘Healthy’ teenager who took precautions died suddenly of Covid-19

‘Healthy’ teenager who took precautions died suddenly of Covid-19

This call would be the start of a 12-day trip that would end in tragedy.

“I can’t tell you how a perfectly healthy 16-year-old boy can make his own peanut butter sandwich late Wednesday night, get his own tea out of the fridge and go to bed like any other teenager in the state or country does. And then within 24 hours fights for its life, “said Dawn.

Andre, a relaxed sophomore at Lawrence North High School, loved YouTube and knew everything about video games; for his birthday in April, he asked for a game that was not due out until December, and his parents planned to get it for him when it came out. He also loved photography and bored his siblings and excelled in basketball and bowling.

Born prematurely at 25 weeks, he and his twin sister Abby spent months in hospital before being brought home and later adopted by Dawn and her husband, Johnny. Although Andre was diagnosed with moderate autism, his parents were strong advocates and he flourished with a positive attitude and a smile on his face. “He always flew over,” said Dawn.

Because Dawn is a nurse in the nursing home of a continuing care community, the family took more than usual precautions when the coronavirus began to spread in the United States. After each shift, she would take her shoes off at the door – where Johnny would sanitize them – and go upstairs to take a shower. The family cleaned the surfaces with disinfectant wipes, wore masks when they had to leave the house, and practiced social distancing as much as possible.

In fact, André was the only family member who hadn’t left home at all. But the virus has proven to be a cunning enemy, circulating in some communities before public health officials realize it. He found vulnerable people like Andre Guest despite all the recommended precautions.

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After Dawn left for work that morning, André – normally self-sufficient – asked his father to help him have a drink. Odd. At 1:30 p.m. when Johnny went to see André, the teenager said he was tired but, said Johnny, “his speech was really messy. He could always understand me and answer me.” Shortly after, when Andre fell into the bathroom, Johnny called his wife.

By the time Dawn came home, André had lost the ability to grab objects, he had difficulty standing, head and eyes rolled, he could not bear his weight and he seemed confused. She called an ambulance, which rushed Andre to the nearest emergency room, who transferred the critically ill teen to Riley Children’s Hospital.

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Although André had no underlying medical conditions, the first thing the doctors discovered was that he had developed type 1 diabetes – his blood sugar was dangerous at 1,500 milligrams per deciliter, more than 10 times the normal. Type 1 diabetes frequently appears for the first time against the background of an infection.

Because he had a fever and cough and was breathing heavily, he was tested for Covid-19. Negative. But doctors struggled to control the adolescent’s blood sugar – usually quite simple with an insulin infusion during a first episode of diabetes. At the same time, her temperature increased constantly and her breathing deteriorated even with the increase in oxygen supplements. A second Covid test came back positive and he was transferred to a Covid unit.

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The two sisters of Johnny and Andre were then swabbed and they too were positive, even if they only had fever and fatigue. Dawn, who was in the hospital with André, decided not to be tested because, according to Riley’s policy, if it were positive, she would not be allowed to return to the hospital until it is tested negative twice.

A few days later, Andre was on a ventilator, and the doctors, trying to understand and treat his rapidly progressing illness, even tried to “pronounce” – placing him on his stomach to improve lung capacity.

André's doctors tried
During his 12 days in hospital, André had problems with the brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and more. “Whatever they fight to try to fix, the coronavirus will find something else to attack,” said Johnny. Although staff obtained remdesivir, an investigational drug for André, his kidney and liver function were too poor to be administered safely. Many of André’s symptoms resembled what has since been called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children – a rare but extremely serious immune reaction associated with Covid that was only described in mid-May. Andre has never been diagnosed with the syndrome.

However, his mother thought he would survive. He was receiving great care and his blood sugar was finally at normal levels – suggesting that the worst of the infection had passed. He was young and had always been resilient.

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On the morning of April 27, that hope quickly evaporated. Her blood sugar levels went up. Her arterial line started to clot, suggesting clotting problems that were a hallmark of the disease. He had a cardiac arrest and, despite chest compressions, died.

Andre is among the small number of children who died of Covid-19 and the first recorded victim of Indiana under the age of 18.

“They were wonderful there,” said Dawn. “Every nurse and every doctor. I can’t complain. We just didn’t get the results we wanted.”

The Marion County North East Special Olympics removed André's basketball jersey number # 54― and sent it to his family. (Courtesy of the Guest family.)

Despite the restrictions on staying at home, André’s death sparked a wave of community support. Letters and cards arrived from teachers remembering their favorite encounters with the teenager.

Over 70 cars drove past the guest house to express their condolences at a memorial organized by the township of Lawrence – where André attended school.

Marion County Northeast Special Olympics removed the André team basketball jersey – # 54 – and sent it to the family home.

With this virus, “you take care of your community as much as you take care of yourself. You have no idea if you are a carrier or if you have touched something that contains it,” said Dawn. .

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a non-profit news service covering health issues. It is an independent program of the editorial staff of the Kaiser Family Foundation which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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