Marlboro County 11-year-old survives rare lung condition after being diagnosed with COVID-19


MARLBORO COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — An 11-year-old from Marlboro County survived a rare lung condition after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Derrian Dease spent 170 days in hospitals after developing lung failure from COVID-19. After going from doctor to doctor across the Palmetto State, he finally got the care he needed to heal in Ohio.

Denetra Dease, Derrian’s mother, saw her son’s health deteriorating and like a mother’s instinct, she couldn’t take a back seat. She said an email from a doctor at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital reassured her that miracles do happen and that’s why her son is alive today.

Derrian has already beaten the odds, when he was diagnosed with Sickle Cell as a young child, however, last Winter his health took a dramatic turn.

“He started going through a sickle cell crisis…he had back pain. And I took him to the first hospital. When we went in, he was sitting at 93 and they gave him morphine and they said we’ll just watch him overnight,” Derrian’s mother explained.

His pain continued to get worse.

“When they did the CT of him that’s when they discovered it was plastic bronchitis. The doctor came in and he talked to me and Dad, the pulmonologist and they explained what he had to do and at that time they put him on a ventilator and everything,” Dease said.

His treatment started at McLeod Health in Florence…then medics transferred to Prisma Health in Columbia and eventually to MUSC in Charleston.  While at MUSC, doctors discovered another roadblock to recovery, he tested positive for COVID-19.

“His symptoms just seemed to get worse and worse, that’s when they contacted hospital three. Hospital three was like well we have this kid who we think is going to have to be put on ECMO,” Derrian’s mother said.

ECMO stands for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. Derrian’s lungs were failing.  He developed a critical illness called ARDS, which is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

It’s the most severe manifestation of COVID-19 in adults with a survival rate of 25%.

“The critical care team at MUSC Children’s Hospital reached out to us, they were concerned that he wasn’t going to survive this illness without the potential for Lung Transplantation,” said Dr. Don Hayes, pulmonologist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Hayes knew he could help nurse Derrian back to better health.

“Derrian had an artificial lung in place that was providing respiratory support for his body,” Hayes said. “They were having difficulty sustaining his life on that device and that was why their concerns were he needed the possibility to be put on Lung Transplantation. With the device in place we had special expertise in performing certain things with this device as well as providing long term care with it.”

The care Derrian received in Cincinnati got him to the point where thankfully he did not need that lung transplant.

“At this point, we’ve not transplanted here for COVID-related lung injury — Derrian would have been our first — but we were happy to help him recover, get off that life support,” Hayes said.

It was indeed a miracle.

“I’m just grateful, extremely grateful,” Derrian’s mother stressed. “After 70 days of being on ECMO, it was 171 days of him being in the hospital, he’s only been home for a little over a month now.”

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