Family members of 15-year-old Braden Wilson from Simi Valley, California, are mourning his death from a rare COVID-19-related illness.
Simultaneously, Braden's mother, Amanda Wilson is grieving the death of her son and recovering from a positive case of COVID-19.
The Santa Susana High School student was discovered to have multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) – a rare complication of the novel coronavirus in pediatric patients, his aunt Heather Brassil told ABC-7.
Braden died on January 5, shortly after his diagnosis.
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"He started having organ failure," Brassil explained.
The 15-year-old's family learned of his condition after he had complications for an unrelated surgery on December 9, although he initially didn't test positive for COVID-19.
Braden spent weeks in and out of the hospital, each time with a negative test until he returned to UCLA Mattel Children's Hospital on Dec. 31 when he tested positive, his other aunt Clarissa Larcom told the Ventura County Star. Soon after, he was released to recover at home.
On Jan. 2, his family called 911 because he had trouble breathing and was brought to the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.
"It was there that Braden experienced multiple complications due to COVID," Larcom said. "His heart, lungs, kidneys, all got inflamed and began to shut down."
The organ failure, the family later learned, was due to MIS-C.
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"It's very shocking to see how it decided to take him," Brassil told ABC-7.
As of January 8, the Centers for Disease Control has reported 1,659 cases of the rare illness – 26 of those cases resulted in death.
In addition to the loss of Braden, his mother is trying to recover from COVID-19.
"She's not doing very well emotionally," Brassil said.
"Alas, your days for earthly adventures by my side has quickly drained. But your grace, joy, kindness and beauty will forever remain," Wilson wrote in a letter obtained by the VC Star to her late son.
Brassil and Larcom set up a GoFundMe page to offset the unexpected costs of Braden's funeral and medical costs.
"He was a kind-hearted spirit that cared deeply about his family, friends, and art. He was, and will always be, the glue that keeps our family together. He loved spending time with everyone and laughing and having fun," the family wrote of Braden.
"He was a pure spirited young man and was strong throughout his life! He had fears, but always pushed through them and would come out stronger. He was truly brave and sweet, and smarter than his years. He did things his own way and didn't follow the norm," they added.
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