Last September, Andy Simeroth was a senior at Blue Valley High School. The youngest of three brothers, he was popular and the captain of the football team. He wore jersey number seventy-seven, which had been passed down through his brothers since peewee football.
“Friday night under the lights was pretty much the biggest thing for him,” says Andy’s mom Kristin Simeroth. “He was the last brother coming through as number seventy-seven, and it was a huge deal.”
In his last game, Andy’s school defeated their rival, Blue Valley North. The next morning, Simeroth was supposed to go watch film with his teammates, as he did every Saturday morning, but he woke up not feeling well. Andy’s parents decided to keep him home so that he wouldn’t spread any illness.
“By Sunday night he was telling us that his body was super weak,” Kristin says. “That’s when he began vomiting and getting a fever. Throughout the day it would get up to 103. His eyes were starting to get red. After several days of not being able to control his vomiting and fever, I took him to a local hospital.”
At the hospital, doctors gave him an IV and ran blood tests. Andy tested negative for influenza A and B and Covid. The doctors sent him home. In the early hours of the next morning, Andy’s symptoms became too severe to ignore.
“He was grabbing his chest in pain and his heart was racing so fast we could not get a reading,” Kristin says.
After another trip to a different hospital, Andy was admitted to KU Med. “From there, all hell broke loose,” his mother says.
Andy—who is now fully recovered and a freshman at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln—was one of a few thousand children nationally who’s suffered from multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare but serious complication of Covid-19.
Doctors don’t yet understand the link between Covid and MIS-C, which is characterized by serious inflammation of the organs. Parents should look out for prolonged fever, red eyes and lips, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, trouble breathing or changes in behavior. The most severe cases happen when inflammation of the heart stops it from properly pumping blood.
This is what happened to Andy—an echocardiogram showed he was in heart failure. With his lungs filled with fluid, he was on oxygen for several days. Finally, on the twelfth day, he started to improve.
“I did not leave Andy’s side for fifteen days,” his mother says. “It was the most terrifying thing I have ever been through. I don’t want anyone to go through what we did. If any of these symptoms are present, parents should seek immediate medical attention and push to make sure that appropriate inflammation marker tests are being run.”
The first place Andy went when he was discharged was to Blue Valley High School to see his teammates. His cardiologist told him that he wasn’t going to be playing football again, but he found a new place on the sidelines cheering on his team.
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