Landon's story: A Tennessee toddler battles long COVID

·1 min read

Good morning. Welcome to Your Week. This is Tennessean News Director Ben Goad.

Health care reporter Frank Gluck brings Tennessean readers one of the most compelling stories of the week — the tale of a young child struggling to overcome the ravages of long COVID.

Landon Lewis, now two years old, tested positive for the virus last fall. Landon was in and out of the hospital and eventually wound up in intensive care, as his parents and doctors did all they could to combat the illness.

Today, Landon is on the road to recovery. But at a time when COVID-19 is fading from front pages and rarely leads nightly newscasts, Landon's story is an important reminder that the virus is still very much with us.

Carter Lewis, his son Landon, and physical therapist Kasey Fleenor play with a stomp rocket to build leg muscle strength and motor skills during a physical therapy session at Associates in Pediatric Therapy in West Knoxville, Tenn. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Lewis suffers from medical complications linked to his COVID-19 illness last fall.
Carter Lewis, his son Landon, and physical therapist Kasey Fleenor play with a stomp rocket to build leg muscle strength and motor skills during a physical therapy session at Associates in Pediatric Therapy in West Knoxville, Tenn. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022. Lewis suffers from medical complications linked to his COVID-19 illness last fall.

Digging deeper. I asked Frank about Landon, his family and the issue of pediatric COVID.

We've long known that COVID-19 symptoms generally hit harder among the elderly and those with other health conditions. How prevalent are cases like Landon's?

Cases like Landon's — complications from COVID-19 in otherwise healthy children — remain pretty rare. Roughly half of kids and adolescents infected have no symptoms at all. That said, there have been more than 10,000 COVID-related hospitalizations involving those 17 and younger, as of Friday (already higher than the 9,400 figure that was true during reporting). More than 5,100 are between the ages of 0 and 4.

How has Landon's family coped throughout this tough time?

Landon's family has benefited from the fact that his mother is a physician and the family has access to good health insurance. But, emotionally, it's been a rollercoaster for them. His mother, Shelly Lewis, started an online journal as a way to cope with the daily struggles and to chart his medical journey.

What is Landon's prognosis going forward?

Landon's physicians and therapists are optimistic about his future, but they have offered no guarantees. While his infections are gone, he still struggles with movement and balance, and he still cannot speak. He will likely have to undergo neurological follow-ups for years to come. But he's a healthy and happy kid, and his parents are doing everything they can to help him get better.

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— Tennessean News Director Ben Goad

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Landon's story: A Tennessee toddler battles long COVID