The family is still in shock over losing their daughter, who became a big sister to Ella just one week before her death.
A 7-year-old girl who was considered to be an active and healthy child died just 72 hours after contracting the coronavirus, said devastated parents Jennifer Graviss and her husband Adam Graviss, of Knoxville, Tennessee.
According to Good Morning America, their daughter Adalyn had been feeling fine until early in the morning of Feb. 4, when she complained of feeling hot. The parents immediately took her temperature and saw it was around 102 degrees, so they gave her an at-home COVID-19 test, for which she tested positive.
The second-grade student stayed at home that day, and despite running a fever, she was fine, her parents said. But, the following night, she started struggling to walk and speak. "It was right around the nine o'clock hour when we noticed her speech was all but gone, though she was still responding to us," said Adam Graviss. "By 10 o'clock, I was in the emergency room [with her], and she was unresponsive at that point."
Children can develop MIS-C, "a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs" with more than 6,800 cases of MIS-C in the U.S. and 59 deaths tied to the issuehttps://t.co/9jnSi0J6FU— B R Fleming, Author (@BFScreenwriter) February 13, 2022
"It was just so fast," he continued. "Hours before going to the hospital, she was running in the front yard." The little one was quickly transported to Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville and was put on an ECMO machine, a lifesaving device that pumps and oxygenates a patient's blood outside the body.
"Even while it was happening, it didn’t seem real," Adam Graviss said of his daughter's rapid decline.
"Her levels were improving and then she just took a turn for the worse." Along with COVID, doctors diagnosed her with both severe myocarditis, inflammation of the heart, and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), which is inflammation of the brain and spinal cord that can quickly cause neurological damage, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Since there's been a surge in Omicron cases in the U.S., infectious disease experts noticed a pattern of brain inflammation, or encephalomyelitis, following cases of COVID-19, particularly among children, according to Dr. Isaac Thomsen, a pediatric infectious disease expert.
COVID remains a serious health threat for children, responsible for 12 pediatric deaths in NJ. The vaccine is available for kids as young as 5, providing safe protection for school, sports & social activities. Find the latest info: https://t.co/cANr4EPs3J #ImaBigShot pic.twitter.com/GLIOTyE8MD— NJhospitals (@NJHospitals) February 17, 2022
Thomsen said Adalyn's case of ADEM was one of the most rapid and severe cases he has seen in his career. He added that she was also the first pediatric patient he has treated who presented with both COVID-related ADEM and severe myocarditis at the same time.
"The combination is probably what ultimately cost her her life, "Thomsen said. "That is pretty rare among viruses, this ability of COVID to hit both of those [the heart and the brain] at the same time."
At 7, Adalyn—though she was eligible—wasn't vaccinated against the virus as her parents were still considering it. However, Adalyn was very diligent about following all the protocols in place, like wearing a mask and washing her hands regularly. "We were just very cautious," said Jennifer Graviss. The little one also didn't have any underlying health issues that would have led to such a tragic situation.
"This is a big reason of why we don't roll the dice on a virus like this," Thomsen said of COVID-19’s unpredictably when it comes to who it affects and how severely. "This is not something to mess around with."
“Adalyn had both severe myocarditis, inflammation of the heart, and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM), inflammation of the brain and spinal cord”— Eli Perencevich, MD MS🧼 😷 (@eliowa) February 19, 2022
The devastatingly high price we pay for misinformation
"The takeaway for parents is this is a virus that we have got to take very seriously and one we have a safe and effective vaccine for," he said.
The Gravisses said they are still shocked that they are now planning funeral arrangements for their beloved daughter, who became a big sister to Ella—their second child—just one week before her death.
"She waited for years to be a big sister," said Jennifer Graviss. "Every night she would pray for God to give her a baby to be a big sister, and that's what we're so thankful for, that she was able to experience that for five days."
Adam Graviss said he is comforted knowing Ella will have her big sister as her protector, saying, "She’s going to have the coolest guardian angel looking over her, protecting her."
He continued, "She was just really fun, and we just took her everywhere. That's what makes it so hard. She was our best friend."
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