MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A liver disease spreading among children has many parents around the world on edge. We now know more about the cases in Minnesota, where one child is in critical condition at M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital.
Becoming a mom to twins is alarming enough, but that was only the beginning for Stacie Haverkamp.
“Their whole pregnancy, anticipating their arrival, (thinking) ‘How are we gonna do two?'” she said.
Three weeks in, her Ethan was doing well, but Elsie was starting to slow down.
“She started to turn a really yellow tint, and by day two I noticed her eyes start to change, and I thought this is not normal,” Haverkamp said. “They admitted us about 12 hours later and said she was in acute liver failure … The only option was doing the liver transplant.”
She did get a liver transplant at just 4 weeks old, and they did last week get a possible explanation. Looking back, doctors believe Elsie’s condition may have been related to the illness in kids around the world, and now a second child is in Masonic with a confirmed case of adenovirus.
“That kid is in ICU and still on supportive care, and is still not showing any signs of recovery. We are all hopeful and optimistic,” Dr. Heli Bhatt said.
Bhatt has treated both severe cases and says, as of now, transplant is the only treatment.
“So far we are still in a range where we are able to handle, but the way the numbers are increasing, we may not have enough livers,” Bhatt said.
Bhatt said parents should look out for symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, yellowing of the white of their eyes or kids losing their appetite. Thankfully Elsie’s appetite is back, and so is her smile, but her grateful mother has some advice from the trenches.
“If your child is showing any signs … bring them in,” she said. “Don’t brush it off if it’s something a little bit more alarming.”
The Minnesota Department of Health tells WCCO they are awaiting test results and investigating several possible cases.
The CDC says, “We encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the symptoms of hepatitis, and to contact their healthcare provider with any concerns. We continue to recommend children be up to date on all their vaccinations, and that parents and caregivers of young children take the same everyday preventive actions that we recommend for everyone, including washing hands often, avoiding people who are sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and avoiding touching the eyes, nose or mouth.”