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Arizona family warns about rare disorder caused by COVID-19

Elizabeth English
Posted at 3:07 PM, Jan 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-31 17:07:22-05

PAYSON, AZ — Whatever “IT” is, 12-year-old Elizabeth English certainly had it. Smiling, hopeful, full of life; her mother Carrie described her as "bubbly."

“She was very involved with student government cheerleading and gymnastics all that type of stuff,” Carrie English said.

So in early December, when Lizzie came home from school not feeling well, English thought it was just the onset of a cold or the flu.

No one could see what was coming next. Over a weekend, everything changed and went horribly wrong.

“There’s a very distinct rash, along with a fever, along with upper abdominal pain and pain in the neck and her eyes,” English said. “She had very classic symptoms.”

Classic symptoms of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C).

Children exposed to COVID-19 in many cases never show symptoms. Then weeks after having it, their vital organs can be affected and begin to fail.

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"MISC" is very rare, but Dr. Wassim M. Ballan, who treats pediatric infectious disease at Phoenix Children’s, says doctors are seeing more cases of it.

“There is a lot of virus circulating in the community and we were expecting that as a secondary effect of this we would start seeing more patients with MIS-C,” Dr. Ballan said.

By the time Lizzie was transferred to Phoenix Children’s from Payson, "her fever was 105 degrees, her heart rate was uncontrollable and her blood pressure was really low,” her mom said.

Lizzie was immediately placed in the Intensive Care Unit. She would die two days later.

“Had I known I could have said look at this rash this fever let's go now, Friday, instead of I can fix this you know,” her mom said.

Dr. Ballan says MIS-C is treatable if detected early.

English spends her time on social media, in chat rooms and on survivor networks talking about the warning signs and symptoms of MIS-C.

“One of my biggest regrets back then,” English says, “is maybe I didn’t give her enough time in the hospital.”

A young life filled with potential is now a parent’s memory to be shared and never forgotten.