St Fergus youngster Euan (10) was left fighting for his life by Covid-linked illness

Ten-year-old Euan Steel is looking forward to Christmas – thanks to doctors and hospital staff quickly diagnosing and treating a rare and potentially fatal condition that can be triggered in children who have had Covid-19.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 6:30 am
Euan was transferred to the high dependency unit for the treatment that saved his life.

Now his family are keen to raise awareness of the symptoms of Paediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome (PIMS TS) which, while only believed to affect a small number of children, needs to be detected early to improve the chances of successful treatment.

Mum Gaynor said: “I don't want to scare parents, but I absolutely want to spread the word of what to look out for.

“As a local head teacher, I have shared this with my own and very supportive school community.

Euan's good recovery owes much to the early diagnosis and treatment of his illness.

“I was unaware that this existed and as it is a relatively new condition, doctors are only just finding out about it too.

“I dread to think what would have happened if I hadn't been able to get a doctor's appointment. I would have put him back to bed with more Calpol and the outcome could have been very different.

“Children can actually die from this. It concerns me greatly when we hear that Covid doesn't affect children – it most certainly does.

“I will always be eternally grateful to my doctor's surgery and the wonderful staff at the Royal Aberdeen Children's Hospital. Without them, Euan wouldn't be here today.”

Happily, Euan was able to make a good recovery after his illness.

Euan, who lives in St Fergus, was previously fit and healthy, took part in cross country events and was an enthusiastic participant at the junior athletics club in Peterhead.

He tested positive for Covid on October 17 and apart from a headache for a couple of days, he was asymptomatic. He felt better very quickly and completed his 10 days isolation.

Three weeks later he became unwell again, with what his mum thought was a vomiting bug. He was also complaining of a sore head and neck, and developed a very high temperature which she couldn't control with Calpol and Ibuprofen.

Gaynor said: “He was sick a lot – 17 times in one night. I phoned NHS 24 first thing who sent us to Peterhead hospital on the Sunday afternoon. There, they diagnosed him with gastroenteritis and sent him home with anti-sickness tablets.

Parents and carers of children who have had Covid-19 should be aware of the symptoms of PIMS TS.

“I still thought he had a vomiting bug and was more worried that he was becoming dehydrated. Nothing would stay down and I was feeding him ice pops to try keep him both cool and hydrated.

“Through the night he was the same, constantly sick, sore head and sore neck. He was very weak and could barely walk. In the morning, I called our GP surgery, Crimond Surgery, who saw him within the hour.

“I was offered the option of more anti sickness tablets or they could call Aberdeen Children's H ospital for advice – I asked them to call for advice and we were told to go in.

“On arrival, Euan was extremely weak. He struggled to walk from the car park to the front door. His heart rate was very high, his temperature was high, he was still being sick and by now he was starting to look red.

Euan with his mum Gaynor on the day he left Aberdeen Chidlren's Hospital.

“The doctor initially thought he had scarlet fever. His eyes became bloodshot, he developed a rash and his lips starting to look cracked. I was terrified and had convinced myself he had meningitis, given the sore head and sore neck.

“A doctor then suggested that he possibly had PIMS TS and that's what they would treat him for, given he had previously had Covid.”

Euan’s heart rate continued to rise, he had a sore chest and his blood pressure was dropping. He was immediately started on intravenous medication – steroids, antibiotics and immune suppressents.

He was transferred to the high dependency unit as his heart was struggling.

Gaynor continued: “I honestly thought we were going to lose him and I sat by his bed, praying for him to live.

“They gave him a heart scan and told us that if it showed anything of concern, they would airlift us to Sick Kids in Glasgow.

Euan is now back to good health and enjoying getting out and about.

“Thankfully the heart scan was ok so we avoided this – I was told he was lucky as I had got him there early.

“He spent three nights in the high dependency unit in Aberdeen and a week in hospital in total.

“Given the amount of blood tests that he was given as they constantly monitored his inflammation levels, he is the bravest child I know.

“Last week, he had a follow up heart scan and has been given a clean bill of health by his consultant – the best Christmas present I could ask for.”

Gaynor is now encouraging all parents of children who have had Covid-19 to be aware of the symptoms on PIMS. See the image on this page more information.