For a 12-year-old juvenile whose parents couldn’t wait to see grow into a vibrant young woman in pursuit of big dreams, Juliet Daly didn’t think that what had started out as mere stomach ache would later leave her bedridden and gasping for breath.
The healthy little girl nearly died after COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, seemed to trigger multiple organ failure and a rare heart condition that caused her heart to stop for two minutes.
“I died for two minutes,” Juliet told Good Morning America on Wednesday while recounting how her near-death journey began three weeks ago when she was airlifted to Ochsner Medical Center (OMC) in New Orleans with heart failure.
“My stomach would not stop hurting. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to live. I wanted for it all to stop.”
It was gathered that she spent four days unconscious on a ventilator at the intensive care unit (ICU) after Jake Kleinmahon, a pediatric cardiologist at OMC, who treated Juliet, attributed her rare heart condition to an inflammation which was triggered by COVID-19.
Before she tested for COVID-19, the little girl had complained about severe abdominal pain — which was not a typical symptom of other COVID-19 patients such as a fever, cough or breathing difficulties.
Jennifer Daly, Juliet’s mother, had also recounted driving home from the New Orleans hospital where her daughter was rushed to, saying “she’s the sweetest girl in the whole world. And she does not deserve this. I was praying to God … just please, please help, help me!”
“After they put the breathing tube down her throat, her heart stopped,” Jennifer said.
“They had to do two minutes of CPR on her. At that point, my whole world just crumbled.”
Juliet’s mother also warned other parents that the virus can be fatal to some children.
“I think it’s really important to get the message out. I mean we nearly missed it,” she said.
“If we hadn’t taken her to the hospital on time, I don’t think things would’ve turned out okay.”
The young girl was discharged on April 15, after her heart function had become normal, although her doctor expressed fears that she likely has a little trauma to her heart that should decrease over time.
“Juliet came in as one of the sickest children we’ve taken care of with COVID-19. The top chamber of her heart was not working correctly with the bottom chamber. She was developing multisystem organ failure,” said Kleinmahon.
“COVID-19 can infect the heart and it can cause the cells in the heart to be unhappy and actually start to die.”