By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nathan Miranda didn’t realize it, but he charmed the socks off his care team at Riley Hospital for Children.
Nurses, therapists, physicians and others gathered to celebrate the 3-year-old’s discharge from Riley last week after nearly three weeks of treatment for MIS-C (multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children).
It was a boisterous farewell as he and his dad, Gerardo, walked down the hallway from his room on 7 West, but Nathan took all the commotion in stride, smiling shyly for photos with occupational therapist Kimberly Voelker and while riding in a Riley wagon.
Nathan came to Riley at about 2 a.m. on Feb. 28, after treatment at another hospital was unsuccessful at alleviating his symptoms, which included a belly ache, swelling and a high fever. The next two weeks were a blur as Gerardo and Sagrario Miranda feared for their little boy’s life.
MIS-C seems to be the body’s exaggerated response to a prior exposure to infection, specifically COVID-19. It strikes adolescents most often. Though treatment with IVIG (immunoglobulin) and steroids is typically successful, there is no single diagnostic test for the illness, meaning doctors must first rule out other possible causes.
In mid-May, the CDC issued a health alert in the U.S. about this new condition impacting children, who began coming into the hospital about four weeks after the peak of COVID surges with what looked like shock or sepsis.
The common denominator in their bloodwork is inflammation, along with evidence of past COVID infection, whether based on antibodies or exposure history. Additionally, two or more organs are typically affected. Often, that could be the heart, GI system, kidneys and/or skin.
“It was the scariest thing we had to go through in our lives,” Gerardo said. “He would get better, then something would happen and he would get worse. It was like the doctors said – one step forward, two steps back.”
By Saturday, March 13, Nathan was on the road to recovery. That meant team members might see him wheeling around the unit on a trike as part of his therapy, a sight guaranteed to make people smile.
“Spending time with Nathan is definitely a bright spot in my day,” said child life specialist Taylor Krile. “When I walk into his room, I’m always greeted by a big smile ... and a lot of Spiderman toys! It's been a joy to watch his personality shine through these past few weeks.”
Anna Busald, a nurse on 7W, said the little boy was one of the sickest kids on the unit for several days. Not surprisingly, he was quiet and sometimes tearful because he wasn’t feeling well, but that changed in time.
“As he’s felt better, he has really shown us his sweet and goofy personality,” Busald said. “We have loved watching him ride his tricycle through the hallway. While we will miss seeing him and hearing his giggle, we are so happy he gets to go home after almost three weeks on 7 West.”
Even without the Spiderman light spinner the team gave him, Nathan was a bright light on the unit, just as he is at home. His dad is grateful for the care his son received and for the farewell fun.
“It was a nice goodbye,” he said.
Photos provided by the family and Taylor Krile, child life specialist