A heartbroken mum told how her baby son died in her arms after being struck down by a rare childhood illness linked to Covid-19. One of the many cases of baby dies of coronavirus.
Eight-month-old Alexander Parsons is believed to be the youngest victim of Kawasaki disease, and illness which inflames blood vessels.
One leading paediatrician, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Prof Russell Viner, was so worried he wrote to the NHS about the danger on April 25 – the day Alex died.
It’s believed the illness could be triggered by a reaction to coronavirus. Medics have given the deadly condition a new name, PIMS-TS, in the fight against Covid-19.
Alex had no underlying health conditions and was pictured smiling and playing just two hours before suffering a ruptured aneurysm.
His devastated mum Kathryn Rowlands, 29, said: “I can’t believe I carried him for longer than he was alive. I will never be whole again.
“And more parents will be in the same unimaginable position unless the Government starts to listen to the advice of scientists and stops gambling with people’s lives.
“The doctors and nurses who fought to save Alex were incredible – but if they’d known more about the Covid-Kawasaki link, they possibly could have done more.”
Baby dies of coronavirus related disease
The first signs of Alex’s illness was a pinprick rash that looked like sunburn, a high temperature and swollen lymph nodes. He later developed severe sickness and his hands and soles of his feet turned red.
“We thought it was a viral infection,” said Kath, a stay-at-home mum.
“We called 111 and they said it could be mumps. When he began vomiting we called back.”
Alex was admitted to the Derriford Hospital in Plymouth on April 6 and diagnosed with Kawasaki disease the next day. The illness usually affects children under five – but pandemic-hit Europe has seen more than 200 suspected cases in children up to 14.
And in Italy 10 youngsters with Covid-19 began showing some or all symptoms of Kawasaki, the medical journal Lancet has reported.
When Alex’s condition worsened he was transferred to Bristol Royal Hospital for Children. A heart scan found multiple coronary aneurysms, enlarged arteries and fluid. He died the next night.
“I was about to try to settle him down for bed but he was so upset,” said Kathryn. “He cried in a way I hadn’t heard. I held him and sang to him, then his head went back. He was floppy in my arms.”
Staff fought nearly an hour to revive him. He never regained consciousness.
“Half the time they were trying to bring him back I stayed in a corner of the room as I didn’t want him to think I’d left him,” Kathryn said.
“Then I sat on a chair outside. I could see him on the bed and his vitals were showing on a machine. I just kept staring at it, hoping they’d change. Then the doctors came out and said an aneurysm had burst and there was nothing they could do. I went in and I lay down next to him.”
Agonisingly, Covid-19 restrictions meant Alex’s dad Jon could not be there when his son died.
“It’s a two-and-a-half hour journey from the children’s hospital to home and only one of us could be with him at the time because of the virus,” said gas engineer Jon, 30. “I’d spent the day with him then headed home to get some sleep.
“I was getting ready for bed when I got a hysterical call from Kath. I couldn’t hear what she was saying so a nurse took the phone and explained Alex had had a cardiac arrest.”
Devon and Cornwall Police blue-lighted Jon to Bristol. But it was too late. “I found out it was over before I got there,” he said. “When we arrived the nurses led me into the room and Kath and Alex were both lying there. I hugged them.”
Kathryn and Jon are now waiting for the postmortem report and preparing a funeral for their only child. “I want A Thousand Years by Christina Perri to be played as I sang that to Alex a lot,” Kathryn said.
“He is the best thing I’ve ever done. I had a straightforward pregnancy and he was born a healthy, happy baby.
“He was my greatest achievement. He could have gone on to do whatever he wanted with his life. Now he’ll only ever be eight months old.
“The Government needs to explore the link between Covid and Kawasaki and get the information out there instead of keeping it quiet.
“The fact they want children back in schools on June 1 is insane. More children will die.”
Europe and the US have seen sharp surges of Covid-linked Kawasaki disease in recent weeks. At least four other children – three in New York and one in France – have died from the condition. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said on Friday Europe has seen about 230 suspected cases in children up to 14.
And doctors in Bergamo, Italy, have reported a 30-fold rise in similar disorders among young children.