On Monday morning, 10-year-old Michigan boy Dae-Shun Jamison had both of his hands and his left leg amputated after developing a rare, serious condition that affects children and has been linked to the coronavirus.
Earlier in February, he had his right leg amputated after suffering from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children.
“They told me that he had MIS-C and I didn’t understand what it was. I’ve never heard of this, didn’t have a clue about it,” Dae-Shun’s mother Brittney Autman said.
That’s because MIS-C is so rare. In Michigan to date, there have been fewer than 80 cases reported. Among the patients was Rockford High School football player Mack Bowman, who battled it last fall and survived.
Fewer than five children in Michigan have died of MIS-C. One of them was Grand Rapids 14-year-old Honestie Hodges, whose detention inspired a change the Grand Rapids Police Department’s youth policy. She succumbed to the disease in November.
As of Monday evening, there have been 2060 cases and 30 deaths across the country from MIS-C in children since mid-May 2020, according to the CDC. Other potential cases are under investigation.
“We see it happen in children that are otherwise healthy, so it does make it very challenging,” Dr. Rosemary Olivero, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, said.
Pediatric doctors everywhere are trying to figure out more about MIS-C. Because COVID-19 is new, MIS-C is, too. Doctors still have a lot of questions about how it works.
“The general way it’s going to go (is) you have the (coronavirus) infection, mild or not, you recover and then you develop this new illness that looks very different from an acute respiratory COVID,” Olivero said.
Autman and Dae-Shun’s whole family contracted coronavirus a few months ago. Dae-Shun was asymptomatic, but his mom noticed about two weeks later that he wasn’t OK.
“I noticed he started laying around. He said he had a headache and then the day before I took him in, the day I took him in, he had a high fever,” Autman said.
Dae-Shun’s GoFundMe page tells the story of the weeks that followed. In December, procedures aimed at saving his limbs. In early January, blood loss as doctors tried to get a handle on the infection. On Jan. 15, the amputation of his right leg. Then, last week, word that both hands and his left leg would be amputated.
“The rule of thumb that we all keep going back to is that children are fine, children are fine and indeed children still have a much lower risk of having severe, acute respiratory COVID-19. That is still the case,” Olivero said. “However, MIS-C shows us one of the many rare, strange manifestations that coronavirus can cause that can make an individual very ill.”
Doctors warn parents to look for signs of MIS-C after their kids test positive for the virus: fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and fatigue.
As the search for answers continues, the journey to helping Dae-Shun adjust to his new life is just beginning.
“I’m trying to find ways to get him back to the way he was as much as possible,” his mom said.
After recovering from Monday’s surgery, there will be more rehab, similar to the work Dae-Shun has already been doing at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.
Autman hopes her son’s next steps will be on prosthetics.
“That’s my goal for him. That’s what I want for him,” she said.
No matter how those steps are taken, Autman said she will be with her son all the way.
“Every single day. As long as he’s here, I’m here,” Autman said.