Mum shares horrific COVID photos
Shocking pics show how the blood of a 13-year-old boy sprayed over a hospital wall as he died from COVID-19 complications after a coughing fit.
A bereaved mother has shared the horrifying images of the blood spattered hospital room in a bid to urge Americans to take COVID-19 seriously.
Stephanie Franek, 44, watched as doctors battled to save her son Peyton Baumgarth's life as the treatment to oxygenate his blood failed.
The youngster passed away just six days after developing symptoms of the killer infection when he became extremely fatigued and his nail beds turned blue.
The mum-of-two endured another COVID loss when her sister Cyndi Crawford, 57, died five weeks after Peyton in the ICU.
RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus updates
Stephanie, a nurse from St Louis, Missouri, said: "One loss would have been heartbreaking alone but these two have completely shattered our hearts".
Stephanie tested positive for coronavirus on October 25.
She and her son experienced mild symptoms and began to quarantine.
She said: "His symptoms didn't seem life threatening and we didn't do a whole lot other than watch Netflix movies."
Four days later, Stephanie became concerned as Peyton couldn't continue a conversation and she noticed that his fingernail and toenail beds had turned blue.
"I said: 'Buddy, I think we need to go to the hospital'."
They went to SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital in St Louis where Peyton asked for a wheelchair.
Stephanie was horrified to discover that her son's oxygen levels had plummeted to just 44 per cent - a healthy person's blood oxygen levels are between 95 to 100 per cent.
"As a nurse, I have never seen someone walking and talking with an oxygen saturation level of just 44 per cent.
"We had only been in the ER for probably one hour when doctors decided they needed to put him on a ventilator."
Stephanie never expected that her son would not be leaving hospital.
While Peyton suffered from a thyroid problem and had asthma, she did not consider him particularly at risk from the respiratory infection.
"I was scared he was going to be put on a ventilator but I also thought we'll get over this hump and bring him home."
Doctors treated Peyton with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) where blood is temporarily removed from the body to allow artificial oxygenation of the red blood cells and the removal of carbon dioxide.
His condition worsened suddenly on Saturday 31 October when he began to haemorrhage.
RELATED: Terrifying new mutant virus strain
"He had this big coughing fit and he basically started to haemorrhage in his chest.
"The surgeons were trying to replace the ECMO and they were doing CPR to help circulate his blood because his pulse was so weak and his oxygen levels were so low."
As doctors desperately tried to replace the ECMO tubes in Peyton's neck, the blood that had pooled in his chest sprayed over the walls.
Stephanie said: "It was all over the cardiothoracic surgeon and he just kept working."
Stephanie, who had been granted special permission to be in the hospital as she had Covid, watched as 10 nurses and four doctors battled for an hour and 15 minutes to save her son's life before calling the time of death.
"Never did I ever think this was going to happen," Stephanie said.
"You don't hear about kids getting Covid and it being that serious.
"I was just in shock.
"I can't describe that sudden devastating loss."
Adding to Stephanie's pain, her sister Cyndi, a trauma registrar, came down with Covid a week before thanksgiving.
She was also put on a ventilator and received ECMO but she passed away on December 7.
"Every day is a struggle to get out of bed and go through the motions," Stephanie said.
She shared that the only positive has been reuniting with her ex boyfriend, Chris Lottmann, 43, a welder, whom Peyton adored.
"He was very close with Peyton and I called him to tell him that Peyton had passed away and he was devastated.
"We have got back together and he has been a huge source of support for me and he has been here for me every moment that I've needed it.
"We think it was Peyton's wish and our gift from Peyton that he got us back together - he really didn't want us to break up in the first place."
Stephanie paid tribute to her son, saying that he had made more friends in his 13 years than some people make in a lifetime.
"He was the sweetest boy and he made everyone smile.
"In his 13 years of life, he made more friends than someone would make if they lived to 85."
Stephanie is speaking out about her son's death in the hopes that it will make Americans take Covid seriously and follow health guidelines.
"I hope people will take Covid more seriously and not say it is a political agenda or some type of fakes news or that it is the same as the flu."
"We were so very careful," she said.
"If we ever went anywhere, we always wore masks and we always washed our hands and used hand sanitiser and we still got Covid.
"Our hearts go out to all the healthcare providers who are battling this on the front lines everyday."
The Chief Medical Officer at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Dr. Marya Strand said: "Despite the recent availability of vaccines, it is clear that our communities will need to continue to use appropriate caution and preventive measures to protect vulnerable populations.
"Masking, vigilant hand hygiene and physical distancing are the pillars of prevention during this pandemic. These principles are important for the young and healthy as well as the elderly or infirm."
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission.
Originally published as Mum shares horrific COVID photos