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Mission Viejo Teen With Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Recovers From Severe Case Of COVID

ORANGE (CBSLA) - Adults are not the only victims of COVID-19. Across the country and here in the Southland, children are also being hospitalized in record numbers.

In Los Angeles County, there are 154 pediatric patients hospitalized with COVID, with 30 of those in intensive care units. At Children's Hospital Orange County reports that it has 37 pediatric COVID patients, with seven of them in the ICU.

One of the hundreds of kids who ended up in CHOC this month with COVID was 13-year-old Henry Nilson. The Mission Viejo teenager's case was so so severe, he had to be admitted to the hospital.

"He was having severe breathing issues, coughing fits to the point that he couldn't breathe and he was turning blue," said his mother Luci Nilson.

Henry Nilson
13-year-old Henry Nilson, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and cannot cough on his own, was admitted to CHOC where among several treatments, he wore a vibrating vest meant to loosen congestion. Jan. 20, 2022 (CBSLA)

Nilson has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. His immune system is compromised and he does not have the ability to cough on his own.

CHOC was able to provide treatments, like a vibrating vest that helps loosen a patient's congest, which were critical for the teenager. Another medical device called a cough-assist was used to force Henry to cough in order to clear his lungs.

His family was afraid of him contracting pneumonia. If he was put on a ventilator, his mom said he likely wouldn't survive.

Luci Nilson was at CHOC last week as patients flooded in and staff worked to keep.

"Many of them were pulled from other jobs. They would tell us, 'This isn't my normal job. I work in a clinic or I work over here, but they're so short staffed, they're pulling us in.' At least once an hour, we'd hear ambulances out front throughout the day, but especially at night. At least twice a night, we'd hear the airlift of helicopters landing at the hospital as well," she said.

After four nights of care, including doses of the antiviral drug remdesivir and other medications, Henry was able to return home.

"We don't if he would've made it through had it not been for the folks at CHOC and the fact that they were tireless," the teenager's mother said.

Henry also shared what he'd like to tell the staff at CHOC.

"I'd want to hug you right now for helping me," he said.

In addition to the first-class care for Henry at Children's Hospital of Orange County, his mom said the vaccine saved her son. Henry was diagnosed with COVID days before he became eligible for a booster. Now that he's getting better, he'll be getting his third shot.

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