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Couple Who Lost Their Son To COVID-19 Tells Parents: 'Wag Balewalain Dahil Totoo Siya'
PHOTO BY Courtesy of Roxy Sibug
  • Filipino parents are becoming anxious about the rising cases of COVID-19 in children, especially as the more infectious Delta variant persists in the country.

    While previous research indicates kids exhibit milder symptoms or none at all, pediatric groups in the Philippines have stated that “in terms of disease severity, COVID-19 tends to be more severe in children with underlying medical conditions,” according to the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines (PIDSP) president, Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi.

    Once again, parents are getting reminded to be more vigilant in monitoring their children’s health.

    Roxy Sibug and Walter Mayor, a couple based in Dubai, bravely shared how they lost their 1-year-old son, Luther, to the virus with the hope their experience can serve as a lesson and eye-opener to fellow parents who are dismissive of the pandemic.

    “Maging lesson sana ito sa lahat ng magulang...wag balewalain ang COVID dahil totoong totoo siya! My son is completely healthy, hindi nagkakasakit, pero sa isang iglap, nawala siya sa’min,” Roxy wrote in a public Facebook post last August 7, 2021, where she recalled their harrowing ordeal.  

    An ‘ordinary’ fever

    In interviews with GMA-7’s morning news show, Unang Hirit, and TV 5’s Frontline Pilipinas, the couple shared Walter experienced headaches and had a slight fever a week before their son got sick. However, since he was working from home, they thought it was just an ordinary fever and did not consider getting tested for COVID-19.

    On July 31, Luther had a high fever, and the couple rushed him to a nearby clinic. They were advised to have him tested for the virus since Walter got sick previously. They were sent home with a prescription for fever medicine and vitamins.

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    The next day, the family found out that they were all positive for the virus. While Luther’s fever went down after a couple of days, Roxy noticed that he was getting weaker and had swollen eyes.

    “Nung chineck ‘yung heart niya, nalaman na namamaga ‘yung heart niya dahil sa COVID-19.”

    They took him to the hospital, but his blood and urine tests came out fine. “Walang nakitang problema,” Roxy told Unang Hirit. Doctors told them, “There’s nothing wrong with your baby. You can go home.”

    The next day, Luther’s condition worsened, and they brought him back to the hospital. “We told the doctors to do everything to figure out what’s wrong with him. They did the ECG, X-ray, and so on,” Roxy wrote on her Facebook.

    In tears, Roxy told Unang Hirit, “Nung chineck ‘yung heart niya, nalaman na namamaga ‘yung heart niya dahil sa COVID-19.”

    She said that she took pity on her son who was lying on the hospital bed without a top on and insisted on covering him with a blanket. “Kahit ayaw nilang pakumutan ‘yung anak ko… Walang damit ‘yung anak ko, puro aparato,” Roxy cried.

    Luther was intubated and was placed in the intensive care unit (ICU) of the hospital for monitoring. Roxy was sent home since she was positive with COVID-19.

    But in a few hours, the couple were asked to go back to the hospital. Luther’s blood pressure was dropping. Doctors tried to revive him, but his body could not handle it anymore.

    “Sa loob ng 24 hours nawala sa’min ang anak ko,” Roxy wrote on her Facebook.

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    What’s more painful is that they could not get their son’s body because they were still recovering from the virus.

    “Imbis na kasama namin siya sa huling sandali niya dito sa mundo, hindi namin makasama. Nasa morgue siya dun, naninigas siya dun, nilalamig siya dun, wala siyang kumot dun. Wala kaming magawa,” Roxy tells Unang Hirit.

    ‘COVID-19 is not a joke’

    In another Facebook post, Roxy writes, “Mataas ang viral load na pumasok sa katawan ng anak ko kaya ang bilis pumasok sa heart.”

    “Ang mali namin ay umasa kami sa pang-lagnat lang nung nalaman namin na positive siya for COVID dahil naniniwala kami na malakas ang immune system ng mga bata sa virus. Little did we know na kahit nawala ang lagnat ay naghahanap ang virus ng sisirain sa katawan niya sa sa sobrang dami nila at long exposure niya sa virus,” she adds.

    According to data released by PIDSP, most reported cases of COVID-19 in children in the Philippines are mild. Many of them have comorbidities. Common symptoms include:

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    • fever
    • cough
    • difficulty in breathing
    • runny nose
    • decreased appetite
    • vomiting
    • abdominal pain
    • watery stool
    • seizure
    • sore throat
    • muscle pain
    • loss of smell
    • rash
    • headache
    • loss of taste

    Though both she and Walter are vaccinated against the virus, Roxy says parents should not feel complacent and should still adhere to health and safety measures for the sake of their children. She advises parents to look after their children since fever is a common symptom of COVID-19.

    “Hindi pwedeng babalewalain ninyo ito kasi hindi siya joke,” Roxy tells Unang Hirit. “Kapag nakaramdam kayo ng kahit anong sintomas, kahit sinat lang, magpa-swab test na kayo, please. Mas magandang gumastos na lang kayo sa magkanong halaga kaysa mawala ‘yung mga mahal ninyo sa buhay.”

    A mom and her family all got COVID-19 but thought it was stomach flu. Click here for their story.

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