By SABINA GHEBREMEDHIN and KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW ORLEANS) — Juliet Daly went from being a healthy and active 12-year-old to being near death due to a heart condition triggered by COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
“I died for two minutes,” Juliet, of Louisiana, told Good Morning America in an exclusive interview about her unlikely health journey that began three weeks ago when she was airlifted to Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans with heart failure.
“My stomach would not stop hurting,” she said. “I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to live. I wanted for it all to stop.”
At the hospital, Juliet was placed on a ventilator and treated in the intensive care unit (ICU).
“After they put the breathing tube down her throat, her heart stopped,” Juliet’s mom, Jennifer Daly, told GMA. “They had to do two minutes of CPR on her. At that point, my whole world just crumbled.”
Juliet’s rare heart condition was caused by inflammation and was triggered by COVID-19, according to her doctor. She remained on a ventilator for four days.
“COVID-19 can infect the heart and it can cause the cells in the heart to be unhappy and actually start to die,” said Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, a pediatric cardiologist at Ochsner Medical Center who treated Juliet.
Before testing positive for COVID-19, Juliet complained of severe abdominal pain but did not show any of the typical symptoms of other COVID-19 patients like a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, according to Daly.
“I think it’s really important to get the message out. I mean we nearly missed it,” she said. “If we hadn’t taken her to the hospital on time, I don’t think things would’ve turned out okay.”
Doctors around the world, specifically in hard-hit United Kingdom and Italy, are now sounding the alarm too, sending out what they call an “urgent alert” about an increase in severely ill children as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The doctors report seeing children with inflammatory syndrome and multi-organ failure, similar to what Juliet experienced.
Doctors in the U.S. stress that such severe illness is extremely rare in children with COVID-19, but that children, just like adults, should continue to practice physical distancing and follow stay-at-home orders in their local area.
“Most children are going to have a very mild or asymptomatic case,” Sally Goza, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) president and a practicing pediatrician in Fayetteville, Georgia, told GMA last week. “However, there are going to be children who get it and it’s unknown how severe each case could be, so it’s still very important for children to do physical distancing.”
Juliet is now back home and doctors say she will make a full recovery. Her mom said she continues to go into her daughter’s room to check her pulse every night and is “grateful” to doctors for saving Juliet’s life.
“I’m so grateful the doctors were able to diagnose it so quickly and were able to get her treated,” said Daly. “We are all going through a tough time right now, some more than others, but, like Juliet, we will recover.”
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