Missouri family travels to Nashville for surgery, only to be turned away after false-positive COVID result


Lila Rees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – At 11-years old, Lila Rees decided it was time for a change.

Lila was born with a condition called Microtia Atresia, or how her mother describes it “a fancy way of saying her left ear never fully developed and she has no ear canal.”

Lila’s mother, Joyce, explained while doctors don’t believe they can repair Lila’s ear canal, they do believe they can make her ear look similar to the right one.

The Rees family felt it was important for Lila to decide on when and if she wanted to have surgery. It was a decision she made in July 2020, to move forward with the 10-hour surgery. Joyce says the procedure consists of taking skin from behind her right ear, as well as her belly to cover a medical-grade piece of plastic.

Lila’s surgery was set to be done in December at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, but in order for it to be done, she had to test negative for COVID-19. Taking all the precautions, Lila’s parents took off work for weeks to ensure no one in the family would catch the virus.

The day before her surgery, Lila’s parents took her to a local urgent care in Missouri, where she tested negative.

“Just as we suspected,” said Joyce.

On December 29, Lila and her dad went to the hospital and gave the test result to the nurses as requested, but there was a problem – the urgent care failed to date the test so it couldn’t be used.

The hospital asked for another test to be done, and the family thought Lila would give another negative result. That’s when they got the shock of their life.

“Doctor Stephan came in and I will never forget his words. He said, ‘Well this has been a very interesting year for sure. Your test came back positive,’ and he has such a great bed-side manner with kids that Lila thought he was teasing, and she was like ‘no, no it didn’t’ and then he said ‘no, it did come back positive, and everybody’s heart just dropped,'” said Joyce.

Lila was asked to leave after being prepped for surgery that day. Joyce says for their “own peace of mind and safety, we had Lila retested the very next day and just as we suspected, her test was negative. The test in the hospital was wrong.”

Lila is set for surgery in March. Joyce says it was the first available appointment they were given. Now, they are hoping that appointment will run smoothly.

Lila has since been rescheduled for another appointment in March, but her family is still worried about the expenses. When she was first set for surgery in December, Lila’s parents took time off work and to make sure the procedure was done before the end of the year for insurance reasons. Due to her surgery being pushed back, insurance will no longer cover the surgery. The family created a GoFundMe page to help pay for Lila’s new ear. 

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