Coronavirus: “super healthy” student dies of rare complications from Covid-19

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Chad Dorrill was in “great shape”. Tall and slender. Played basketball. Ran long distances. But the 19-year-old student died on Monday evening, apparently of neurological complications linked to Covid-19.

Dorrill, a sophomore at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, was living off campus and taking classes online when he fell ill with symptoms of flulike, the school chancellor wrote on Tuesday. , Sheri Everts, in a statement to students confirming her death. “His mother encouraged him to come home, quarantine him and get tested,” Ms. Everts said.

He tested positive for the coronavirus on September 7 and quarantined for 10 days before returning to Boone, according to his uncle David Dorrill, who said he lives seven of the family’s homes in Wallburg, North Carolina, near Winston. -Salem. He said that after his nephew returned to college, he almost immediately began to experience severe neurological problems.

“When he tried to get out of bed,” said David Dorrill, “his legs weren’t working, and my brother had to carry him to the car and take him to the emergency room. The doctor said it was one in a million – that they had never seen anything progress like it did. It was a Covid complication which, rather than attacking his respiratory system, attacked his brain.

Although the coronavirus primarily targets the lungs, it also attacks the kidneys, liver and blood vessels, and a significant number of patients report neurological symptoms, including headache, confusion and delirium.

Although colleges and universities have become hotspots for the pandemic, young and healthy people are generally at lower risk of developing severe forms of Covid-19. Only a few deaths among U.S. students have been linked to the virus, including a football player at the University of California in Pennsylvania.

A New York Times The college campus virus tracking database has recorded at least 130,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic, mostly this fall, and about 70 confirmed deaths, mostly in the spring among college employees.

Tonia Maxcy, a family friend who taught Chad Dorrill in high school, said doctors told the family they suspected he had an undetected case of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare neurological disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. Many viruses can trigger the syndrome and there have been cases linked to Covid-19.

“Chad was so nice,” Ms. Maxcy said. “Always a smile. Always a dance. It was this child that everyone loved.

David Dorrill said an autopsy was underway. “He was in good health,” Dorrill said of his nephew. “He was in excellent shape. Skinny. Could run six miles with no problem. He ran with us less than three weeks ago, actually. He was healthy – until it happened.

Mr Dorrill said it was not clear how his nephew contracted the virus. “He told us he was always careful to wear a mask. “

Dr Colin McDonald, president of neurology at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where Chad Dorrill’s parents pulled him out of resuscitation at 8 p.m. Monday, said the hospital and members of the staff caring for him had been “devastated” by his death.

“We are doing everything we can to understand why this has happened,” said Dr McDonald.

A spokeswoman for the state of Appalachia said the Dorrill family informed the university of their condition last week. She wouldn’t say what action, if any, the school had taken as a result, but she said the university tested 7,569 students on campus on Sunday and 334 were positive, for a test positivity rate of 4, 4%.

In a now private Facebook post to the Piedmont Pacers page, a travel basketball team Chad Dorrill had played with, a friend of his mother, Susan Dorrill, quoted her as saying that “if it can happen to a super healthy 19 year old – an old boy who doesn’t smoke, don’t vape or do drugs, it can happen to anyone ”. The family confirmed that her mother made the statement.

“As our family suffers from this incredible loss,” her mother wrote, “we want to remind people to wear a mask and quarantine if your test is positive, even without symptoms. You don’t know who you may come into contact with as the virus affects differently. ”

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