4-year-old goes home after 8 months in hospital from COVID

COUNSELOR, New Mexico -- A 4-year-old girl is paralyzed after she was diagnosed with Acute Transverse Myelitis as a result of COVID-19, the girl's mother tells KOAT.

KOAT spoke to 4-year-old Stella Martin and her mother, Cassandra Yazzie, a day after Stella was finally released from the hospital after an 8-month long hospitalization.

Yazzie tells KOAT in April Stella was playing on the bed when she ran to her mom complaining of back pain, from there she says the young girl "went limp" in her arms.

Yazzie rushed Stella to San Juan Regional Medical Center, where she was quickly airlifted to UNMH.

Doctors diagnosed Stella with COVID-19 and shortly after was diagnosed with Acute Transverse Myelitis, Yazzie said.

The disease is classified as an acute inflammation of gray and white matter in one or more adjacent spinal cord segments.

Doctors told Yazzie this was the first COVID related case they had seen at UNM in a child.

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Dr. Barry Ramo tells KOAT that COVID-19 is known for causing a Hyper Immune Response in children which could be to blame for the inflammation in Stella's spinal cord.

According to John Hopkins Medical Center, one-third of people with transverse Myelitis have a full or near full recovery, with most of their symptoms going away. Another third have a fair recovery, retaining some of their symptoms.

Stella spent five months at UNM in Pediatric ICU, from there she was at Carrie Tingley Hospital for another three months.

On Monday, after spending eight months away from home, Stella was able to return home.

Staff at UNMH gave the girl a round of applause as she left the hospital.

"I am so grateful for the staff at UNM, the doctors, the chiefs, the nurses. They've done a lot for Stella. We thank them all," Yazzie told KOAT.

She went on to talk of her daughter's love for those who cared for her.

"Every person there, she tells them she loves them, she checks up on the staff, when they'd come in, she'd ask 'are you OK?' she calls them all her friends," she said.

While Stella was in the hospital, Yazzie says the girl's father died from COVID-19.

"I miss my daddy," Stella told KOAT.

Stella told KOAT she wanted to ask others to stay home, stay safe and wear your mask.

Yazzie told KOAT, doctors told her that it was not likely Stella would recover but she adds that her mobility has already improved and that the girl was able to move her arms a little.

"I just want everybody to stay safe, to not take COVID lightly, because it is affecting my daughter in a big way," Yazzie said.

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