Maddie Neville thought she’d escaped a Covid infection with mild symptoms, but weeks later suffered heart failure which doctors say was linked to the virus (Pictures: Facebook)
A healthy 20 year-old student thought she had seen off a Covid infection with mild symptoms – only for the virus to trigger heart failure a month later.
Maddie Neville initially suffered mild symptoms including loss of taste and smell, as well as a cough, after testing positive for Covid at while studying at Temple University in Philadelphia during October.
The student believed she had overcome the virus, and traveled home to Gouldsboro in Pennsylvania to celebrate Thanksgiving with her family at the end of November. Maddie tested negative before setting off, but found herself gasping for breath and suffering from intense chest pain after returning.
Maddie initially ended up in her local hospital. She said: ‘My limbs started to tingle and I passed out. I woke up and there were 16 doctors and nurses standing around me screaming.’
Maddie now needs help to complete basic tasks, and suffers nightmares about her illness (Picture: Maddie Neville)
The student’s symptoms grew so severe that she was airlifted to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philly on December 2. Doctors there diagnosed Maddie with congestive heart failure brought on by complications related to her earlier Covid infection.
She suffered a severe inflammation which left her heart pumping at just 10% of its normal capacity. Maddie – who turned 21 on December 21 – is now recovering at her parents home, but still suffers multiple physical and psychological symptoms as a result of her infection.
She has shared her story to try and dispel rumors the threat of Covid is fake or exaggerated, saying of her own brush with the virus: ‘It was horrible.’
Recalling her initial October infection, Maddie told the Philly Inquirer: ‘All I had was a dry cough, and lost my taste and smell. It was super mild. No fever at all. I really didn’t feel that bad.’
She quarantined for 14 days, with Maddie’s initial symptoms disappearing. But Maddie – a former competitive swimmer – was shocked when she was left out of breath by walking her dog while home for Thanksgiving.
And her symptoms worsened during a family trip to a Christmas market on Black Friday.
Maddie said: ‘The chest pain was horrible.
‘And the cough was so bad I had to keep suppressing it. I had a horrible fever and chills. I had none of those things when I had Covid.’
Maddie went to her local urgent care center, where she tested negative for Covid. Doctors there gave her antibiotics and steroids.
But Maddie’s condition worsened. She visited her local emergency room in Scranton, and was diagnosed with pneumonia.
Her oxygen levels had dropped to 85% – far below the healthy 95-100% level, and she was admitted to hospital, where doctors treated her pneumonia with intravenous fluids.
Maddie passed out while having blood drawn, and was airlifted to Philly.
There, doctors realized her heart condition was likely caused by the fluids given to her to treat the pneumonia, which they said had made her blood-pumping organ work overtime.
She was given diuretic drugs to remove her fluids for six days, and soon began to recover again. Doctors are almost certain Maddie’s heart condition and pneumonia were caused by Covid, but say there are still too many unknowns surrounding Covid to make a definitive link.
Maddie suffers nightmares as a result of her brush with Covid, and is far less independent than she used to be.
While Covid is still statistically far more dangerous for older sufferers, Maddie hopes her story will remind young people to take the virus seriously too.
She explained: ‘I’m a 20-year-old who still needs help in the shower and my mom has to brush my hair.
‘This could be something I live with for a long time. It’s too early to tell if I’m going to have a lifelong issue with this. So it’s definitely scary.’
The United States has recorded more than 18million Covid infections, with close to 320,000 people confirmed to have died of the virus.
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