Islamorada’s Zane Wampler eagerly awaits the day he’s able to ride his bicycle and return to the classroom at Plantation Key School to see his peers.
If his health checks out with doctors next month, it soon could be a reality for the young boy who was diagnosed in July with a rare syndrome linked to COVID-19.
Leah Wampler didn’t know if she’d ever be able to bring her son home. She sat in the hospital and waited for updates from a team of doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami.
Before Zane was admitted, no symptoms of COVID-19 were apparent. Three tests performed came back negative. It wasn’t until a 105-degree fever that Leah knew something was seriously wrong.
A positive antibodies test, however, led doctors to the belief that Zane had multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C. While some eventually improve with medial care, others get worse — as was the case for Zane. With dips in his condition, from swelling to rash, came improvements, to the point of his release from the hospital on Aug. 4.
Today, Zane’s parents say his health is improving with his organs shrinking and returning to normal. Doctors continue to closely monitor an enlarged left lung artery and a heart murmur he developed through the illness, however.
While health specialists aren’t confident in sending him back to school just yet, they believe Zane could return to the classroom by the new year.
“His gallbladder, spleen and liver are back to normal,” said Zane’s dad, Zack. “If we get past all the checks, then we should be good for school in January.”
“The last couple appointments we went to, they did say they (his organs) were shrinking down, but all the doctors still look at me and say ‘we’re learning with you,’” Leah said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MIS-C is a condition where the body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may experience fever and gut pain, vomiting, neck pain, bloodshot eyes and fatigue, among other symptoms. Of the few children admitted, Zane’s symptoms were among the worst, according to doctors.
The Mayo Clinic said there’s more that needs to be learned about the emerging inflammatory syndrome. Children with signs or symptoms should see a doctor.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an antibody test with a positive result means that the child’s immune system developed blood proteins (antibodies) that fought the COVID-19 virus. Sometimes this blood test is the only indication that the child was ever infected — meaning that the child may have fought the infection without ever having signs or symptoms of COVID-19.
Still, some children with MIS-C are currently infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. This is usually confirmed by detection of the virus on a swab taken from the back of the nose or throat.
Zane has faced several life-threatening issues in his young life, as Dr. Stan Zuba said MIS-C attacked the young boy’s body so aggressively that there were times he didn’t know if he was going to pull through. But he did, Zuba says, with outstanding and state-of-the-art care and treatment at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.
“The unwavering faith and strength of his parents through this entire ordeal was truly remarkable and clearly kept him fighting to get better,” Zuba said.
Leah said Zane remains in good spirits as he continues his schooling from home.
“They send home the work and we work with him,” Leah said. “For an hour-and-a-half two days a week, a teacher from PKS comes over or does it virtually and answers any questions we have. The main part of his school day is us teaching them.”
While Zane is anxious to return to school, Leah said he is also eagerly waiting to ride a bike. Leah said she wanted to take him to find a new bike, but he told her he didn’t want a new set of wheels until he can actually jump on and ride.
“I said I get it but you’re so close,” Leah said.
Leah said they’re amazed with Zane’s progress from his admission into the hospital to today. Leah said her son’s blessed to have the likes of Zuba, the team of doctors at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital and a tight-knit community.
Through the experience, Leah said she’s learned not to take anything for granted. Staying attentive to her children’s health, she’s urging proactiveness and taking the necessary steps if parents think their children were exposed to COVID-19.
“Listen to your parental intuition 100%,” she said.