IT STARTED like a normal day. Dawn Guest (54) got up and went to work around 5:00. She heard her 16-year-old son Andrea moving around his room, but he always got up early, even after school closed due to covid-19. Later in the day, her husband called her and said something was wrong with their son. The call will be the beginning of a 12-day journey that will end in tragedy, writes CNN.
“A perfectly healthy 16-year-old was making himself a peanut butter sandwich on Wednesday night, taking tea from the fridge and getting ready for bed like all the other teenagers in the country. And within 24 hours, he was fighting for his life, ”says Dawn.
Andre was a second grader at Lawrence North High School, loved YouTube and knew all about video games. For his birthday in April, he requested a game that wasn’t supposed to go on sale until December, but his parents planned to get it as soon as possible. He also loved photography, he loved to annoy his siblings and he was great at basketball and bowling.
He was born prematurely, at 25 weeks, along with his twin sister Abby. He spent months in the hospital before they got home. They were later adopted by Dawn and her husband Johnny. Although Andreu was diagnosed with mild autism, his parents struggled and he progressed, had a positive attitude and was always smiling.
The family took strict measures
Because Dawn worked in a nursing home with extended care, the entire family also took more than usual measures when the coronavirus began to spread to the United States. After each shift, she would take off her shoes at the door, where Johnny would disinfect them, and then take a shower. The family cleaned all surfaces with disinfectant wipes, wore masks when leaving the house and practiced social distance whenever possible, writes CNN.
In fact, Andre was the only member of the family who did not leave the house at all. But the virus turned out to be a cunning enemy. It circulated to some communities even before public health authorities realized it existed. He found vulnerable people like Andre Guest despite all the recommended precautions.
After Dawn went to work that morning, Andre asked Dad to bring him a drink, even though he had never done so otherwise. Weird. At 1:30 p.m., when Johnny went to see how Andre was, the teenager said he was tired. Johnny says “his speech was incomprehensible, he didn’t understand what I was saying and he couldn’t answer me.” Soon Andre collapsed in the bathroom and Johnny called his wife.
Critical condition within 24 hours
When Dawn got home, Andre lost the ability to catch objects, had trouble standing upright, couldn’t control his head and eyes, and seemed confused. Dawn immediately called an ambulance, which transported Andrea to the emergency room, and then the already critically ill teenager was transferred to Riley Children’s Hospital.
Although Andre had no previous medical conditions, the first thing doctors discovered was that he developed type 1 diabetes. His blood sugar level was 1,500 milligrams per deciliter, which is 10 times higher than normal levels. Type 1 diabetes is usually first detected when an infection occurs.
Because he had a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, he was tested for covid-19, CNN continues. He was negative. However, doctors have had problems controlling his blood sugar levels, which is usually relatively easily resolved by injecting insulin at the first diagnosis of diabetes. At the same time, his body temperature continued to rise and his breathing deteriorated, despite the extra oxygen. The second test on covid-19 was positive and Andre was immediately transferred to the covid-department.
Johnny and Andre’s two sisters were tested afterwards and were also positive, but they had only a mild fever and were tired. Dawn was with Andrea at the hospital and decided she would not be tested because Riley Hospital regulations dictated that she must leave the hospital if she tested positive and must not return until she brought two negative tests.
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Finished on a respirator
A few days later Andre was on a respirator, and in an attempt to figure out what was going on and to suppress the rapid progression of the disease, doctors turned him on his stomach, to improve his lung capacity. After 12 days in the hospital, Andre had problems with his brain, heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs.
“Whenever doctors found a way to fix something, the coronavirus would find and attack something else,” Johnny said.
Although hospital staff procured the experimental drug remdesivir for Andrea, his kidney and liver function was too weak to be safely administered. Many of Andre’s symptoms resembled what was then called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare but serious immune reaction associated with covid-19 that was not described until mid-May. Andreu was never diagnosed with this syndrome.
His mother still believed he would survive. He had top-notch care and his blood sugar level was finally at normal levels, indicating that the worst infection had passed. He was young and always resilient.
The first person under the age of 18 to die in the United States
On the morning of April 27, hope quickly evaporated. Sugar levels jumped. His arterial blood began to clot, indicating coagulation problems that had become a hallmark of the disease. He suffered a cardiac arrest and died despite a chest massage. Andre was among the few children to die from covid-19 and the first victim in the U.S. state of Indiana under the age of 18.
“People were wonderful here. Every nurse and every doctor. I can’t complain. We just didn’t get the result we wanted, “Dawn told CNN.
Despite quarantine measures, Andre’s death provoked a massive reaction from the community. Letters and messages came from his teachers who recalled favorite encounters with the late teenager. In a procession organized by the city of Lawrence, in which Andre went to school, more than 70 cars drove to the Guest house to express their condolences to the families.
The Northeast Marion County Special Olympics retired Andre’s basketball jersey number 54 and sent it to the family.
“With this virus, when you take care of yourself, you take care of your family. You can’t know if you’re a laptop or if you’ve touched something with a virus on it, “concludes Dawn.