6-year-old girl hospitalized with COVID-related illness needs blood platelets

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A community is sending an urgent request tonight as a little girl is hospitalized at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.

Six-year-old Hattie Lucille Shell is battling a condition brought on by COVID-19 that causes body parts and organs to become inflamed. She’s been in the ICU for about a month.

Her pastor says she had no previous health issues.

“Her family affectionately calls her the chicken whisperer,” said Garrett Best, pastor of Oliver Creek Church of Christ. “They have some animals and some chickens and she loves to be outdoors.”

He says she’s an active little girl.

“She’s just a beautiful, joyful, child and so that’s one of the things that just hurts us so bad is to see her hurting like this in this moment,” Best said.

Before Hattie became hospitalized, she developed a deep cough.

“Which her family just thought she was getting a cold,” Best said. “What they discovered through that process was that she had likely had COVID weeks before but she had been asymptomatic so they did not know”.

After trips to the doctor, she eventually ended up at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, diagnosed with multi-system inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C.

“What we see is that a few weeks following COVID-19 infection, children come in with a fever and then they have multi-system involvement,” said Dr. Sandy Arnold, chief of infectious diseases at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and UTHSC. “Really any system can be involved, but I would say cardiac and respiratory and gastrointestinal are the most common.”

“It was attacking her lungs, and so she was on a ventilator for weeks. A regular ventilator but also an oscillating ventilator,” Best said.

Once diagnosed with MIS-C, Hattie made improvements and doctors took her off a ventilator and moved her to a different unit of the hospital. But she took a turn, developing a high fever.

“Which they believed was caused by an infection,” Best said. “And now she’s being attacked by. It looks like an immune system issue that causes massive inflammation in her spleen and in some of her other organs.”

Best says it’s so serious an expert from St. Jude came over to help with treatment. She recently started receiving a chemotherapy drug.

“She does not have cancer,” Best said. “We’re not trying to cause miscommunication there, but what we need the chemotherapy drug to do is the same thing as it would for a cancer patient.”

Best says Hattie needs AB negative blood type platelets.

“And they want to match her platelets from AB negative donors,” Best said. “If you have AB negative platelets, please give those and just keep that in the regular blood supply, and the doctors at Le Bonheur will find that.”

Hattie’s mother has documented her journey on Facebook. Her story and strength has captured the hearts of thousands across the Mid-South.

Hattie’s school, Tipton-Rosemark Academy, held a blood drive today to help those in situations similar to Hattie’s. Best says he hopes her story reminds people of the dangers of COVID-19.

“It’s very real and it’s very serious,” Best said.

He’s also encouraging anyone with a rare blood type to donate platelets or plasma. With so many sick people right now, those donations are crucial. He also commended the staff at Le Bonheur for all of their great work during such a tough time.

Hattie’s family church, Oliver Creek Church of Christ, is also accepting monetary donations and making sure the family receives them. 

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