An Israeli teenager died Saturday of lingering health complications after falling ill with COVID-19.
The 16-year-old was unvaccinated and did not have any existing medical conditions. He had been hospitalized at Schneider Children’s Medical Center in Petah Tikva after being brought there from another hospital two weeks ago.
The hospital had been treating the teenager with an ECMO machine for pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS), a rare condition that develops in some children after exposure to the coronavirus.
The boy was identified in media reports as Aden Jamal Fayumi, a resident of the central town of Jaljulia.
The fatality was believed to be the first recorded death from PIMS in Israel. Around 100 cases of PIMS have been recorded in Israel since the syndrome was first reported, according to the Haaretz daily.
Fayumi’s death came two days after a 6-month-old baby was hospitalized in serious condition with PIMS symptoms, which include persistent fever and serious inflammation.
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“There are quite a few children in the country with PIMS and quite a few are on ventilators. This is a serious disease. I think we are seeing a rise in in PIMS in recent weeks,” the hospital’s Dr. Ofer Schiller told the Ynet news site.
Schiller said the teenager’s condition had been volatile and expressed concern about connecting patients to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machines for extended periods. The machines do the work of a person’s heart and lungs in order to allow them to recover from serious respiratory illness.
“Whoever is on ECMO can also suffer from complications of the ECMO itself and not only the disease. The inflammatory response is something difficult to deal with,” he said.
The doctor did not say what he believed was behind the rise in PIMS cases.
Israel in recent weeks has seen record numbers of patients on ECMO machines, even as the fourth wave of the pandemic appears to recede.
On Friday, the number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in serious condition dropped to 460, the lowest recorded number in nearly two months.