Fort Worth’s Cook Children’s Medical Center says it’s caring for 25 patients suffering from complications related to COVID-19.
While most health experts say children fare better than adults in battling the virus, there are a growing number of children hospitalized with COVID-19.
A North Texas mother is sharing her son’s story, hoping to shed light on the virus and its symptoms.
Francisco Rosales lays is in his hospital bed, coughing every few minutes.
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The 9-year-old has been battling COVID-19 for about three weeks.
It started with a fever.
“We tried it with Tylenol and Motrin at the same time, but later on that week, he started coughing a lot,” said his mother Yessica Gonzalez.
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She took her son to the hospital, but they were sent home with medicine since the boy’s oxygen levels were in good shape.
Days later, Francisco’s fever got worse, hitting 104.
Paramedics rushed him to Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.
“When the ambulance took him the first day, the only answer the paramedic got from him was like: ‘My heart is going to stop,’ because he couldn’t breathe,” she said., “When he was waking up, he was pretty scared and he said: ‘Mom, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. I thought I wasn’t going to wake up.’”
The Garland Elementary School student is among a growing number of children hospitalized in North Texas.
“It seems like the kids are getting sick really fast, there’s lots and lots of them getting sick and it’s unpredictable who’s going to get sick,” said Dr. Cindy Darnell Bowens, the medical director of Children’s Medical Pediatric ICU in Dallas.
“It’s an honor, it’s not a burden,” said Bowens of the strain on frontline workers. “We have that constant honor and responsibility of being able to take care of these families and these patients in one of the worst times in their lives.”
Bowens has noticed several differences in recent weeks compared to the first wave of COVID-19.
There are more teens, more children including healthy and those with comorbidities, she said.
This comes as social distancing and mask-wearing wears off for many.
The hospital is also caring for an increasing number of pediatric patients suffering other respiratory illnesses like RSV, a lot earlier than typically seen.
The delta variant, doctors say, may also be more contagious than the chickenpox.
Some health experts have expressed being more concerned about coronavirus than the flu when it comes to children. Particularly because of the unknown long-term effects the virus could have on anyone.
“I am,” said Bowens. “With the flu, we have a history with the flu. We’ve seen the flu for years… with COVID, we don’t have that same kind of historical context. We’re learning and we’re learning rapidly. But we don’t have that same history to fall back on.”
She urges parents to be exercise caution to help mitigate the virus’ spread.
Gonzalez says she and several family members contracted the virus as well but because they are vaccinated, they have fared well.
They do not know where they contracted the virus.
“People need to get vaccinated,” she said.
She expects her son to be released from the hospital sometime this week.
For now, the 9-year-old will continue to lay on his belly like adults stricken with the virus in an effort to help his lungs recover.
Francisco, she says, looks forward to seeing his siblings and starting the fourth grade very soon.