KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A 5-year-old boy in Kalamazoo was asymptomatic for COVID-19, but six weeks later was in the ICU diagnosed with a rare inflammatory syndrome linked to the virus.

Kristen Budden of Kalamazoo said her son Lorenzo was diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. MIS-C is a rare inflammatory syndrome associated with COVID-19 that affects children — typically two to six weeks after a child has recovered from a COVID-19 infection — and can take a devastating toll.

Lorenzo’s symptoms came on quick and included a high fever and rash.

Budden said the first two doctors she took him to said it was nothing to worry about. A few days later, he was admitted to the Pediatric ICU at Bronson Children’s Hospital in Kalamazoo.

“It was scary, he ended up being on six liters of high-flow oxygen,” Budden said.

A week later, Lorenzo was released from the hospital. His parents are crediting the doctors with saving his life. 

Bronson Children’s Hospital Medical Director Dr. Greg Tiongson said MIS-C usually requires hospitalization. He said to date, they’ve treated 18 kids with MIS-C.

“On average one patient per week for the last four weeks have been admitted to the hospital and diagnosed and treated for MIS-C,” Tiongson said.

Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital reported a record number of MIS-C cases in December 2021.

Pediatric Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Rosemary Olivero said they’re bracing for a possible future surge with Omicron.

“We’ve seen an astronomical cases of omicron in children in the month of January, so what does this mean? Are we going to see droves and droves of children coming in with MIS-C? I think that is completely possible, but yet to be determined,” Olivero said.

Both doctors agree vaccinating your child against COVID-19 is the best way to prevent severe COVID-19 illness and complications like MIS-C.

Olivero said parents should also be on the lookout for symptoms, including a persistent fever, a rash and diarrhea.

“Especially given how much COVID-19 there is in the community right now and how contagious omicron is, even if you haven’t had symptoms or your child hasn’t had symptoms, nobody tested positive, we should still assume that we are getting exposed for the intensive purposes of getting MIS-C, so it does needs to be on the minds of parents,” Olivero said.

Lorenzo, 5, was hospitalized after developing MIS-C. (courtesy Kristen and Chris Budden)

Lorenzo’s parents are sharing his story in hopes of raising awareness about MIS-C.

“I wish no parent would ever have to be in that situation,” Lorenzo’s dad Chris Budden said. “Parents need to know about this about this illness that’s linked to COVID.”

With the right treatment, doctors say most kids recover from MIS-C. Bronson Children’s Hospital reports no fatalities from MIS-C.

“Almost all children have a rather quick and speedy recovery,” Tiongson said. “Their heart functions return to normal, their fevers resolve, their rash and other organ systems come back to normal over time.”

Kristen Budden said Lorenzo has gotten the all-clear during his follow-up visits.

“At six weeks, he was cleared from cardiology, and he can go back to playing and doing everything that he did before,” she said.