A 12-year-old British girl still requires a feeding tube two years after contracting COVID-19 — as the once energetic child battles to recover from the long-term ravages of the illness.
Tillie Adams, of East London, caught the infection in December 2020 and spent weeks in the hospital as she deteriorated, the Mirror reported.
But as Tillie’s weight plummeted below a mere 84 pounds and she wasn’t getting better, doctors eventually diagnosed her with Post COVID Infection Syndrome — or long COVID.
Since last summer that year, the 12-year-old has needed nasogastric — or NG — tube to provide her with the valuable nutrients her body needs.
Although she can eat small meals, it causes her chronic pain, she told the UK outlet.
Now, as she enters her third year of battling the long-term effects, doctors are unsure if she will ever fully recover.
“I want to be more like my normal self. I want to take out my tube, I want to be back to normal by next year,” Tillie told the Mirror.
“It’s hard for me because I’m trying to learn I can’t do everything I used to do. I didn’t think it was going to last this long, I thought it would just be a couple of months,” she said.
“Sometimes I think I’m getting better, but then I get ill and it takes me back,” the girl added.
Her 44-year-old mom, Kelly, 44, told the Mirror that her daughter is a “different child” to her energetic former self.
“She was only supposed to have the tube for six weeks initially,” the mother told the outlet.
“I just think, ‘Are we going to go back to the way we were before?’ That’s always on my mind. I always ask the doctors, but all they can say is, ‘We hope so.’ We still don’t know how long it’s going to be until she gets better,” the devastated mom continued.
“Each time we go to the hospital or the post-COVID clinic, they still don’t have any answers. They’re learning as well,” she added.
More than 100,000 children across the UK are affected by the sometimes debilitating condition, according to the BBC.
A study, led by University College London and Public Health England and published in September 2021, found that as many as 1 in 7 children aged 11 to 17 may have symptoms linked to COVID months after testing positive for the virus.
A separate study published in March 2022 found that one in four children with COVID symptoms develop “long COVID.” The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, pooled data from 21 earlier studies conducted in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.
For Tillie, her long COVID means she can only go to school three days a week — while she studies from home the other two.
“I see my friends a lot, but I want to be in doing what they’re doing, but it’s too much for me,” she told the Mirror.
She tried to return to roller-skating but was forced to stop due to the acute pain from the activity.
“If she felt good that day she’d got out and try and do as much as she could, but then she’d suffer for a couple of days,” her mother said.
“It’s very hard for her to realize that even if she’s having a good day, there’s no point in doing a lot and then suffering tomorrow. It’s taken her a while to realize she needs a healthy balance.”
Last year, Tillie launched an Instagram account to document her arduous journey and has amassed more than 17,000 followers, some of whom are also struggling with the condition.
“I try and help them as much as I can because I know what they’re going through. I realize I’m not alone,” Tillie said. “I want to raise awareness, I want people to know it doesn’t just affect adults.”
“If you speak to people they’re shocked that she’s got this because of COVID. It’s all because of COVID — she was perfectly fine before all this,” her mom added.