CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Wednesday Lynch is the youngest patient at UNC’s COVID-19 Recovery Clinic. She hadn’t yet turned 12 when she got the virus, so there wasn’t a vaccine available to her.
Now, almost 13 years old, Wednesday is still suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19.
“She was an all-star cheerleader, always bouncing off the walls and bouncing off the trampoline,” said Melisa Lynch, Wednesday’s mom. “She was a straight-A student.”
But that all changed in September 2020, when Wednesday tested positive for COVID-19. Her mom said the mild infection quickly took a turn. She said Wednesday had a 103-degree fever for three days and seizures.
One year later, Wednesday has heart and blood pressure problems, too. She was diagnosed with Tachycardia, Dysautonomia, and POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome).
“She’s had brain fog, confusion, memory loss, and cognitive loss with learning,” Lynch said. “She was tested for accommodations and she was performing at 31 percent and two grade levels behind.”
There’s no end in sight.
“It can be challenging to treat an illness that we know relatively little about. It’s tough for us to provide estimates or a timeline or degree of recovery,” said Dr. John Baratta, who is Wednesday’s doctor at the recovery clinic.
There are about 500 patients enrolled in the clinic. Wednesday is the youngest patient and one of the handful of patients under the age of 18.
“Most of the research that has been done on long-haulers is regarding adults,” Baratta said.
That’s why Lynch is working so hard to educate parents. She is providing information on vaccinations and advocating for the importance of masking.
“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Lynch said. “I can’t force anybody to do anything, but I can at least try.”
She’s also working to raise awareness that not only can kids get a severe case of COVID-19, but it can change their lives.
Lynch is the global ambassador of the U.S. branch of “Long COVID Kids,” which is an advocacy group that helps kids and their families deal with the long-lasting effects of COVID-19.
“I’d just like to see [Wednesday] be able to live a normal life again,” Lynch said.
Both Baratta and Lynch said the best defense against Long COVID is by getting vaccinated and wearing a mask.
Baratta has a toddler at home and said that as soon as she is eligible for the shot, they will take her to get a vaccine to protect her from what he has to see every day.