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'It happened so quickly' | High school freshman battles rare illness connected to COVID-19

Farragut High School student Brady Livingston had to be placed on a ventilator a month after she thought she had recovered from the coronavirus.

FARRAGUT, Tenn. — More than a month after recovering from a mild case of COVID-19, a Farragut High School freshman required a ventilator to breathe because of a rare side effect of the coronavirus, her family said. 

Brady Livingston, 14, tested positive for a mild case of COVID-19 in September. However, her parents did not notice symptoms matching the little-understood Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) until late October.

It started with a rash, then a fever. High heart rate, low blood pressure, lethargy, kidney problems and bloodshot eyes soon followed. 

"It all happened so quickly. It was like you couldn’t catch your breath from one thing it was something else," her mother Aleece Livingston said. 

After first complaining of a rash and stomach pains on Oct. 22, her parents brought Brady to East Tennessee Children's Hospital on Oct. 25. Doctors admitted her to the intensive care unit soon after. 

 Then she got worse. 

"You could tell something was wrong. There were multiple nurses in there, multiple doctors," Brian said, her father. 

Soon, they told him Brady needed a ventilator to breathe. 

"She’s small, she’s very skinny. She’s fought for too long. And she’s just losing it. She’s just losing the battle, we’ve got to get her down, get her rest," Brian Livingston said, his voice breaking. 

"I honestly thought it could’ve been the last time that I saw her," Alecee Livingston said. 

They say doctors treated her for MIS-C, an illness so rare that on Tuesday, East Tennessee Children's Hospital said it has only seen a handful of cases since the pandemic began. 

Brady said she doesn't remember most of her hospital stay; she said it felt like a dream happening around her. 

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"I never lost faith. Because I could definitely feel all the prayers people were sending," she said. 

Soon, with the treatment including steroids, she began bouncing back and within a day, doctors decided they could take her off the ventilator. 

"It was more of a happy emotion because, God, please get her out of this thing," dad Brian said. 

Days later, doctors cleared her to return home. Brady said Tuesday she feels back to "99 percent." She's back in school, but doctors still don't understand the long term implications of the illness.

Still, her parents are just happy she's home.

"When you see your kid on a vent and you think the worst of the worst, it’s pretty good to get them home," Brian Livingston said. "I was glad to see her go in and hug her dog."