15-year-old Hays High cheerleader home recovering after being hospitalized with COVID-19


AUSTIN (KXAN) — A 15-year-old Hays High School cheerleader never thought she’d get COVID-19, but she ended up in the hospital because of it.

Katelynn Ramirez’s mom, Christina Meredith, said Katelynn was exposed on Dec. 18th, and she has no known underlying medical conditions. In fact, she said Katelynn is a healthy and active athlete.

Katelynn went from cheering at high school football games to fighting for her life. It’s been an emotional journey.

“When I first got it, I didn’t think it was serious, I guess you could say,” Katelynn said.

At first, Katelynn said she didn’t have any symptoms, but that quickly changed. Meredith said her daughter ran a fever for days with no signs of improvement.

That’s when Meredith said she and her husband made the decision to take Katelynn to Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin to be hospitalized.

Meredith said Katelynn wasn’t hospitalized until 10 days after she was exposed.

“Things just kept changing so fast,” Meredith said. “I told my family, ‘She’s doing good – she’s up.’ Then the next [moment], I would say, ‘They’re [medical staff] doing this, and that, they think she has a blood clot.'”

Katelynn’s condition was a shock, since she is so young, and otherwise healthy. Having already lost one daughter to a genetic lung disease, Meredith was worried.

“They talked about if she needs any more, she would have to go to ICU, and she would have to be intubated,” Meredith said. “And things just hit me at that point.”

Katelynn was eventually put on the drug Remdesivir, which got her well enough to go home.

Dr. Donald Murphey, a Dell Children’s Hospital infectious disease specialist, said staff has not given a lot of children this drug, as not many have been hospitalized.

“So, the first treatment is steroids,” Murphey said. “If you’re in the hospital and you need oxygen… if you’re not turning the corner getting bad or needing still some support for your breathing, we would use Remdesivir.”

When Katelynn’s family found out Remdesivir seemed to improve her condition, and she’d be able to come home, it brought them to tears.

“Since I realized it’s happened to me — it’s crazy how far it got into it,” Katelynn said.

Katelynn is still dealing with side effects.

“Sometimes I run out of breath; I get headaches easily,” she said.

She wants everyone to know the virus doesn’t discriminate.

“No matter how young or how old they are, it’s serious,” Katelynn said.

The entire time Katelynn was hospitalized, her mom was right by her side.

She’s been out of work for nearly a month caring for Katelynn. Her best friend, Charisa McBee-Crossland, set up a GoFundMe for the family to help with overall finances and medical bills.

“I just want people to know to wear their mask,” Katelynn said.

Katelynn and her mom said their community has shown up for them, when they truly need it.

The Hays High School Cheer team has made signs they take to games, reading “Kat Strong,” in her honor.

Meredith said other cheerleading teams have donated to their GoFundMe, and even have worn the Rebels’ colors in Katelynn’s honor.

Other neighbors bought groceries for the Katelynn’s brother and dad while she and her mom were in the hospital.

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