Fishers mom begs Hoosiers to get vaccinated after son with serious medical concerns contracts virus

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INDIANAPOLIS — A Fishers mother’s worst nightmare came true when her son, Maddox O’Connor, tested positive for COVID-19. Maddox battles mitochondrial disease and muscular dystrophy.

“When you have mitochondrial issues, his body doesn’t create enough energy needed to run all of his cells and organs at the same time,” Shawn O’Connor, Maddox’s mom, explained.

For nearly two years, Shawn worked to protect her son from the virus, but he ended up showing symptoms over the weekend. Maddox is the only person in the family who is not vaccinated, though he was scheduled to get his Jan. 5 following recovery from a major surgery late last year.

“Just because you’re a healthy person that will probably get over COVID in a couple of weeks, there are people like Maddox that won’t recover,” Shawn said.

Shawn wanted to take her son to Riley Children’s where he’s received care his whole life. But Shawn said his doctor told her she could care for Maddox at home right now, considering his symptoms and the fact he had supplemental oxygen and other lifesaving tools at home already.

“He said, ‘You know if you take him to the emergency room you’re going to run the risk of him getting the flu or RSV on top of having COVID,'” Shawn said.

As Maddox works toward recovery, Shawn is hopeful her son’s story will encourage others to get vaccinated.

“They all have no choice,” Shawn pleaded. “Their body didn’t give them the same opportunities that ours gave us. But you can help them.”

Riley Children’s Hospital reports an increase in children’s hospitalizations, like hospitals across the state and country are reporting. They sent us this statement:

Riley Children’s Health, like children’s hospitals across the country, is seeing an increase in hospitalizations among children, including those with COVID-19, respiratory illnesses, as well as trauma and other medical conditions that require acute care.  Our team continues to leverage resources across the system to care for patients with urgent needs.

We are asking our community to do their part to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, including getting vaccinated if eligible, wearing a mask in public settings, washing your hands regularly and staying home and isolated if you are sick. The COVID-19 vaccine provides a high degree of protection against severe disease and death. To find a vaccination site, please visit ourshot.in.gov.

The Indiana Hospital Association is warning Hoosiers that without some relief inside the hospitals, doctors will likely need to make difficult decisions.

“I think folks in the hospitals right now feel that it is, in some ways, battlefield medicine when you have that many people waiting for a bed or the emergency room,” said President Brian Tabor.

In the Indiana State Health Department’s Dec. 31 update, less than nine percent of ICU beds were reportedly open. IHA said they are praying that number does not get to zero.

“The system is always meant to have a little bit of that slack to be able to handle the unknown,” Tabor said. “Right now, we don’t have that.”

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