Doctors believe Fort St. John teen fought rare COVID-19 related syndrome

Marina Lundbek flew by medevac to BC Children's Hospital where doctors believe she was suffering from MIS-C (Photo Courtesy of Marie Lundbek).

Marina Lundbek came close to COVID-19 in January, but it was weeks later when she was flown to the BC Children’s Hospital.   

Thirteen year old Marina recalled feeling exhausted by her initial illness. According to her mother, Marie, she was running a fever of 105 and had a sore neck.

After two visits to the Fort St. John emergency room, the family was told Marina would be medivacked to Vancouver.  

Marina said “I thought I just had a cold and the next thing I knew I was in Vancouver.”  

Upon arrival at BC Children’s on February 22 doctors suspected Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). A rare immune system response related to COVID-19 in children.

Dr. Kevin Harris, a pediatric cardiologist at BC Children’s, says the syndrome appears three to six weeks after illness. “You do have to be infected with COVID to get MIS-C, but you won’t necessarily in children always know when you have a COVID illness at the time,” said Dr. Harris.

MIS-C was first reported in the early months of the pandemic. Symptoms are similar to other inflammatory conditions like Kawasaki disease.

 “While you can get very sick from this most children end up doing well in the long run,” Dr. Harris said.

That’s true for Marina who is on the mend after her hospital visits. “If I like stand for too long, I’ll get light headed still,” she said.

Dr. Harris said MIS-C causes children to become so sick it is not something parents need to worry about missing. While predictors remain unknown, he’s encouraging vaccination to reduce COVID-19 spread in the community and the chances of children developing MIS-C.

But still Marina says she’s okay with being unvaccinated. “Needles are scary,” she said.  

After recovering almost entirely in hospital, federal vaccination mandates came into play when Marie and Marina were travelling back to Fort St. John. Since both are unvaccinated they cannot not travel by plane, leaving the bus to Prince George and having family pick them up as the easiest option.

The longer travel time causing further financial strain for the single mother who had already taken time off work to care for her daughter. Meanwhile, Marina is catching up on school work and hoping for good health.