’It was a nightmare:’ 12-year-old healthy girl suffers from cardiac arrest triggered by COVID-19

Updated: Apr. 30, 2020 at 9:31 PM CDT
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COVINGTON, La. (WVUE) - A 12-year-old Covington girl recovers from cardiac arrest doctors say was likely triggered by COVID-19.

Her mother says she had no pre-existing conditions.

"It was extremely surreal. It was a nightmare," Jennifer Daly said.

She said her healthy daughter, Juliet, suddenly experienced strong abdominal pains and nausea in early April.

“It hurt to walk. I felt like I was both hungry, about to throw up, and not hungry. It was very weird,” Juliet Daly said.

Jennifer Daly said they took her to the pediatrician, who said she had to go to the ER.

“My husband took her to the ER, her heart rate was very slow. She was in a complete heart block. Her heart was only beating 40 to 45 beats per minute, whereas it should be 60 to 100,” Jennifer Daly said

"She also had severely increased squeeze of the heart, so she was very sick because of that, and her upper organs were starting to fail," Dr. Jake Kleinmahon, Pediatric Cardiologist with Ochsner Hospital for Children said.

Medical experts put a tube down her throat to help her breath before she was airlifted to Ochsner Hospital for Children.

"After intubation, she actually had a cardiac arrest. Needed CPR for two minutes," Kleinmahon said.

"They got her back, thank God, which was a small miracle in and of itself," Jennifer Daly said

“I was sedated, thankfully, and I have no memory of what happened,” Juliet Daly said.

Doctors told Jennifer Daly her daughter had a 70% chance of recovery.

"I remember talking to the mom that first night, and saying that we really don't know how things are going to turn out, and she could have anything from a full recovery, or heart transplant, or worse, die," Kleinmahon said.

Jennifer Daly said she did not expect her healthy 12-year-old to be diagnosed with the rare heart condition.

“What happened to Juliet is extremely rare, but it did happen, and even though I’m a doctor myself, I almost missed it myself,” Jennifer Daly said.

While COVID-19 among kids isn't very common, doctors say many of those diagnosed with the virus, are also fighting another virus.

"The COVID or the Adenovirus caused this caused this to her heart, and made the cells in her heart quite angry and not really work very well," Kleinmahon said.

After ten days in the hospital, the Dalys are back home, and Juliet is fully recovered.

“I was pretty scared and pretty overwhelmed,” Juliet Daly said.

“When I think about it, there were so many points when it could’ve gone sideways, when things could’ve gone south, and we could’ve ended up with a much poorer outcome than we did. So, it is amazing that she’s making a full recovery,” Jennifer Daly said.

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