ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — While the elderly are more at risk of contracting COVID-19, multisystem inflammatory syndrome is a complication of the virus that can be dangerous, even deadly, for kids.
Mack Bowman, a Rockford teen, recently returned home from a five-day stay at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital where he was treated for the syndrome. He developed the inflammatory condition roughly a month after testing positive for COVID-19.
The condition is a rare inflammatory syndrome that affects children, typically after they’ve recovered from a COVID-19 infection.
At first, beating COVID-19 seemed easy for Bowman. The Rockford High School varsity football player tested positive for the virus in October.
“My sense of taste and smell was the only thing I had affected when I had COVID,” Mack said.
A couple of weeks and a negative coronavirus test later, Mack felt better than ever. The 17-year-old even returned to the football field, helping his Rams beat another school, Hudsonville, on a Friday night in early November.
A week later, Mack’s parents took him to the hospital for what they thought were flu-like symptoms but turned out to be a continuation of his battle with coronavirus.
“We thought it’s really not that bad and we’re fortunate that he didn’t get sick – and then it snuck up on us so quickly,” Mack’s father J.J. Bowman said.
The rare inflammatory condition is known to come weeks after a child recovers from COVID-19, which is why Mack’s quickly deteriorating condition caught his parents by surprise.
“We came so close to losing our son, so close to losing our son and I was one of those people who thought what are the odds that anything is going to happen,” Angela Bowman, Mack’s mom said.
The doctors at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital diagnosed his syndrome, but even after the initial rounds of treatment Mack’s health continued to decline.
“During the time, even though I was in pretty bad pain and I felt like I was freezing and burning at the same time and I couldn’t breathe, I just kept pushing through,” Mack said.
Mack continued to fight hard.
“He was such a goal-oriented fighter that when they told him his kidneys needed more water, he started writing one, two and three on cups of water and just going through seven cups a day like a fighter,” J.J. said.
Five days after being admitted, Mack was discharged from the hospital, returning home where he continues to undergo close observation and treatments to help heal his heart, kidney and other impacted organs.
As a survivor, Mack and his family can’t help but think about the kids still left fighting.
“At night when I was just trying to get any type of rest I could, I could sometimes hear other kids in their rooms crying, which made me really sad, really, really sad,” Mack said.
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital says so far, they’ve treated 10 patients with the syndrome – one child died after being in the hospital during the same time as Mack.
“I felt kind of guilty because I felt like how come I survived and she didn’t. It makes me really sad… it’s hard to talk about,” Mack said.
Aside from helping Mack make a full recovery, the Bowman family is setting out to educate others about the potentially deadly consequences for children who contract the virus.
“I just really pray the other people will see what we’re saying because that’s all we want people to see,” Angela Bowman said. “Listen to us. We lived through terror and we are still living through terror, we’re coming out of it and it’s getting better, but it’s just not a chance, no matter how minimal, that you should be willing to take.”
Rockford Athletic Director Cole Andrews said they’ve implemented new return-to-play protocol with their trainers that will test all student-athletes with a history of COVID-19 for signs of the condition.
Andrews said there were already talks of putting this protocol in place prior to Mack’s diagnosis but views his experience as even more of a reason to do such testing.