Duncanville 4-year-old in ICU battling rare complication from COVID-19

A Duncanville 4-year-old is in the ICU battling an uncommon complication from COVID-19. But doctors say they see more cases with each wave of the virus.

Nala Bester has been in ICU for five days. And while they are starting to see some positive signs, the progress is slow.

Erica Hernandez is speaking to FOX 4 from Children’s Health Dallas, where her 4-year-old daughter, Nala, has been intubated in the ICU since Sunday.

Nala has been diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a complication from COVID-19 that causes major organ systems to become inflamed and even fail.

Hernandez says Nala’s symptoms started just over a week ago with a hard-to-control fever and then other symptoms followed, like severe stomach pain.

Hernandez says she herself contracted COVID-19 in mid-December and quarantined away from family. She didn’t immediately think Nala’s illness was connected since it was four weeks later.

As an ICU nurse, Hernandez watched Nala’s symptoms closely and took her to urgent care and the emergency room. Each time, she was sent home to recover.

Dr. Jeffrey Kahn is chief of infectious diseases at Children’s Health. He has not treated Nala but says Children’s sees more cases of MIS-C as COVID cases increase.

"A lot of these children had an asymptomatic COVID infection," Dr. Kahn said. "So it suggests that this is an abnormal inflammatory response to the virus that percolates and develops two to four weeks afterwards."

"It bothers me because you don’t just have one system problem. You don’t have it’s just a breathing problem," Hernandez said. "It’s playing a balance scale on each body part to make sure that if we tip one over, we tip the other one back."

Hernandez says despite the uncertain future, she’s holding on to hope and sharing her story as a warning to other parents. 

"I never thought it would happen to my daughter. It is very important for parents not to take it lightly," she warned. "I just ask for prayers for Nala. It’s hopeful she can still come out of this."

Dr. Kahn says a hallmark symptom of MIS-C is a high fever that lasts for several days. He says parents should be concerned about MIS-C if their child develops a high fever several days after a possible COVID exposure even if the child never developed any symptoms around the time of the exposure.