A 14-year-old girl who has disabilities is now in intensive care after contracting coronavirus, allegedly from an at-home nurse, according to an update to her family’s Facebook page.
Zoey Komninos was recently admitted to the pediatric ICU at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey after her family learned she was exposed to coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, her family said.
The disease can be especially dangerous for the teenager — she already copes with a reduced immune system from previous medical conditions, including epilepsy, cerebral palsy and susceptibility to lung infections. These conditions led the family to take Zoey out of public school two years ago and she has been cared for at home ever since, they told NJ.com.
“Zoey doesn’t walk or talk but she understands and communicates in her own way,” Zoey’s mother, Melanie Ollick Komninos, 47, wrote in a recent update to their Facebook page. “Our girl loves to babble and will say love, hello, yeah and sometimes no more.”
“Things changed over the years, so many new norms but the twinkle in her eyes and smile are contagious,” she continued. “They light up our world.”
The family’s predicament began when one of Zoey’s at-home nurses said they potentially exposed the teenager to the virus, which attacks the respiratory system.
At the time, Zoey had been experiencing an elevated temperature, Komninos recalled to NJ.com. As a precaution, the family took her to the emergency room at Hackensack University Medical Center on Thursday. Along with her heightened temperature, Zoey had begun to wheeze and had low oxygen levels by the time they arrived at the hospital.
“They didn’t know which way she was going, so that’s why they sedated and paralyzed her,” Komninos told the outlet of the doctors’ decision to place Zoey in an induced coma.
After testing positive for the virus a day later, Zoey has been placed on a ventilator while quarantined in the PICU.
“It’s terrible to see your child like this,” Komninos told NJ.com.
Through it all, Komninos has remained by her daughter’s side while her husband takes care of the couple’s other two children at home.
“I have the honor of being by Zoey’s side during hospital stays,” Komninos wrote on Facebook. “This stay is truly like no other as Jimmy and the kids cannot visit. Only hospital staff can enter and exit. Pray for everyone’s safety so we may continue to do what we do best!”
As of Wednesday, Zoey’s temperatures are beginning to regulate and her condition has stabilized, according to a post from the family.
A GoFundMe page to help the family has raised more than $8,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, GoFundMe.org, the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, has launched a fundraiser that offers support for organizations and individuals affected by coronavirus, the platform said in a statement provided to PEOPLE.
“By donating to the GoFundMe.org general relief fund, the donation supports many individuals who have started fundraisers on GoFundMe related to this pandemic, and organizations dedicated to serving the people,” the company said. “Donations to the general relief fundraiser of GoFundMe.org, a United States charity, are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law, and will broadly support communities impacted by coronavirus.”
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