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Shock after healthy 20-year-old landed in intensive care with multisystem inflammatory syndrome related to Covid-19


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A mother has spoken of her family's emotional turmoil after her healthy son ended up on life support as a result of contracting coronavirus.

Caroline Pratt, of Seabrook Road, Seabrook, had to endure weeks of no contact with Oliver, 20, as his body was ravaged by multisystem inflammatory syndrome associated with Covid-19.

Mrs Pratt, with Oliver
Mrs Pratt, with Oliver

The syndrome shares symptoms of Kawasaki disease and is thought to mainly affect young children - the immune system is forced into overdrive as a response to the virus, causing multi-organ dysfunction and in some cases sepsis.

Mrs Pratt and her husband Jonathan quickly sought medical attention when Oliver came downstairs one morning in May feeling unwell.

She said: "He was really finding it difficult to stay conscious, vomiting blood, there was blood in his urine, and he had this rash going all the way from his hands up to his elbows."

The parents had isolated from Oliver and their other two children Ben, 17, and Imogen, 13, two weeks earlier after contracting the virus themselves.

The pair only had mild symptoms, but what started as a sore throat and headache for Oliver quickly snowballed into something far more serious, and he was admitted at Ashford's William Harvey Hospital.

The Pratt family
The Pratt family

An antibody test revealed that he had contracted the virus weeks before but had no symptoms, but what his body was going through now was an inflammatory syndrome related to the virus.

Due to strict social distancing measures the parents were not allowed to be with Oliver as his condition quickly worsened, and were kept up to date via emotional phone calls.

Mrs Pratt said: "At 1:30am we had a call saying his condition had deteriorated so much he was going to ICU, and they told me his liver function was deranged, he had jaundice, his blood pressure was being monitored through a line in his neck and he was needing oxygen.

"At one point while I was talking to his doctor they were in the process of putting him on life support - it was a horrendous phone call."

Eventually the decision was made by the medical team to transfer Oliver to London's St Thomas' Hospital in the event his heart might fail.

The Pratt family had to resort to video calls to see their sick son
The Pratt family had to resort to video calls to see their sick son

The mum-of-three said: "To suddenly think he might need a heart transplant was horrific."

During Oliver's time being cared for 24/7 by NHS staff his parents were not allowed to come and see him, having to resort to regular phone calls and video chats with the on-call nurses.

Mrs Pratt wrote a blog during this time, to keep track of everything that was happening and give herself something to focus on.

One entry read: "The NHS are amazing and I have no doubt at all that Ollie is in great hands, and all the staff I have spoken with feel our plight in these uncertain times.

"But, the agony of waiting for news, hoping we can see Ollie via a video link and the interminable gap between phone calls is quite simply torturous."

But after just two weeks Oliver made a remarkable recovery, getting the all-clear to be picked up by his parents on June 3.

Mrs Pratt said there were 'a lot of tears' after seeing Oliver for the first time in a fortnight
Mrs Pratt said there were 'a lot of tears' after seeing Oliver for the first time in a fortnight

Mrs Pratt said: "We just threw our arms around him and the nurse left us to give us some privacy - there were lots of tears."

Despite Oliver's quick recovery the long-term effects of the illness are still not clear, as medical researchers continue to learn more about the inflammatory syndrome and its connection with coronavirus.

For the Pratt family, Oliver's ordeal revealed the reality that the virus can have near-fatal consequences for people who have no underlying health conditions, as well as those who are initially asymptomatic with Covid-19.

Oliver, who is a second-year student at the University of the Creative Arts in Canterbury, hopes his life-threatening experience will make people think twice about ignoring social distancing measures.

He said: "Just take it seriously, don't think you're immune.

Oliver was welcomed home by an army of well-wishing neighbours
Oliver was welcomed home by an army of well-wishing neighbours

"It's easier to get the virus than a lot of people think, you don't need to be directly coughed on or anything."

Mrs Pratt, who works at the Beacon, a special needs school in Folkestone, has since set up a fundraiser for staff at the William Harvey Hospital to thank them for what they did for her son.

She said: "All this stuff was going on in his body, and we didn't know until it was almost too late.

"The William Harvey's actions are what saved his life, because if they hadn't identified what was wrong and got him to St Thomas' in time, it could have been a very different story."

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