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Austin-area children who recovered from rare illness linked to COVID part of new study

About 90 children have been treated for MIS-C at Dell Children's since the pandemic began and 20 of them are part of the study.

AUSTIN, Texas — While most children who get COVID-19 don't end up in the hospital, some are diagnosed with a rare and serious pediatric illness.

Dell Children's Medical Center is part of the first study of MIS-C, multisystem inflammatory syndrome, to better understand and treat the condition.

"This was my healthy child, and all of a sudden he's crashing and it just was unreal," Abby Eason, a Jarrell mother who had to rush her son to the emergency room in February 2021, said.

Eason said her son, Finn, had a high fever, was lethargic and had red eyes. 

"I just knew he is not himself. And something is really wrong," Eason said. 

Finn was diagnosed with MIS-C at age 7, a month after recovering from COVID-19.

RELATED: Yes, kids can get long COVID, even if they were asymptomatic or had mild cases

"After your body has completely cleared the virus, your immune system has kind of gone hyper-inflamed and is overworking and now is gone too high and is fighting something that's no longer there in the body," Dr. Keren Hasbani, a pediatric cardiologist at Dell Children's, said.

Dr. Hasbani is now leading the very first MIS-C study at Dell Children's. About 600 children from the U.S. and Canada are part of it, including Finn.

MIS-C is a very rare illness. About 90 children have been treated for it at Dell Children's since the pandemic began and 20 of them are part of the study that could help doctors learn more about the illness and how to treat it.

"It begins with usually high fevers, and then they develop also a sandpaper rash. Their tongues will turn bright pink or red. Their eyes will get a conjunctivitis or redness and the fever is relentless," Dr. Hasbani said. 

RELATED: Kids' low COVID-19 vaccination rates called a 'gut punch'

She encourages parents to take preventative measures like getting their children vaccinated, if they are eligible.

Some MIS-C patients, like Finn, go into the pediatric ICU, but Dr. Hasbani said this rare illness is treatable.

"Once we treat them, the symptoms actually seem to go away quite quickly," Dr. Hasbani said. 

For mom's like Eason, it's heartbreaking seeing their child suffer through it.

"If they had not taken the steps that they did as quickly as they did, I would not have my child. His heart was crashing," Eason said. 

RELATED: CDC: Pfizer vaccine appears to protect kids against rare condition linked to COVID

Finn fully recovered and is now vaccinated against COVID-19. It was a decision Eason said she made with the guidance of health experts to prevent anything like this from happening again. 

For more information on the MIS-C study, click here.

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