Orem teenager warns of lasting COVID-19 effects: ‘You don’t know what’s going to happen to you’

Digital Exclusives

OREM, Utah (ABC4 News) – One Orem teenager is warning others of the possible lasting effects from the coronavirus after he has struggled with acute chest pains for months after his initial recovery.

“I have a few friends who think this is all fake and I’ve told them, you don’t know what is going to happen to you,” Turner Geddes says. “You could be worse than me, you could be better than me but you don’t know what is going to happen to you after this. So just be careful.”

Turner Geddes is a healthy, athletic, 16-year-old from Orem High School. Geddes is competitive and has a passion for running, something he was looking forward to this fall with his high school cross-country team.

Turner was exposed to COVID-19 at an event in July. Soon after he started to show symptoms.

Turner then tested positive with coronavirus. Like many teenagers who contract the virus, symptoms were mild with only a mild sore throat, mild cough, and a lot of fatigue. For Turner though, he developed an increasingly intensifying chest pain while quarantining. However, Turner quickly recovered, except for lingering chest pains.

Turner attempted to compete in a cross-country race but his mom said he was ‘sluggish’ and it was like ‘running through mud’ for him during the race because of the pain he was in.

“There were just all these things that just weren’t right,” says Liesha. “So, we called the pediatrician one day after he had to stop running because it was hurting him so bad. The pediatrician said to come in and we will do some tests.”

All of the tests came back normal but one. One test came back showing such poor lung function, that Turner was told to stop all physical exertion and was referred to Primary Children’s.

After a series of appointments and tests with specialists at Primary Children’s hospital, doctors came to the relieving but confusing determination that nothing serious was wrong but the doctors said, “we don’t know how to help you.”

Doctor’s concluded that all the pain he is feeling is not from any possible underlying condition but is linked to the coronavirus, something he had months ago. Turner’s doctors also told him that chest pains similar to his are a common thing that they are now seeing in coronavirus patients.

“The doctor just kept saying we don’t know. We have only had this virus around for six months, we don’t know. We don’t know if it will go away, we don’t know if it will get worse, we don’t know how long it will take. We just don’t know. They cautioned us to just be super careful,” says Liesha of the doctor’s instructions.

According to the Mayo Clinic, imaging tests taken months after COVID-19 patients have recovered, even from the mildest of symptoms, have shown lasting damage to the heart which may increase the risk of heart failure or other heart complications in the future.

The Mayo Clinic has also reported that the aftermath of COVID-19 can result in people having long-standing damage to the tiny air sacs in the lungs which can result in long-term breathing problems.

So, in an effort to not let his lasting coronavirus impacts get the best of him, Turner is back at school trying to cope with everything that has changed over the summer for him.

Turner used to run with one of the faster-paced groups on his team and would normally run around eight miles a day. His new normal? Running with one of the slower-paced groups and having to stop sometimes not even a mile into his run with chest pains.

“He is so sweet. One of his biggest concerns is that he would collapse with his team members and that they would have to take care of him and he said he can’t do that to his friends,” his mom says of Turner’s new routine. “We have worked it out that he takes his phone with him and if he has pain while he is running, he just stops and he calls me and I come pick him up and drop him back off at the school so he can still participate with the team and do what he can.”

While the Geddes family is learning how to handle Turner’s long-term recovery from COVID, they have become even more increasingly adamant about helping people see the seriousness of COVID-19.

“We thought that we have this really healthy kid and it was a super mild case and so we were like ‘we dodged a bullet, this is great’. But now what we are left with is months, potentially years, no one knows, of residual effects from coronavirus,” Liesha says. “He still can go about and do things but everything he does right now has to be different.”

“Kids are not impervious to this,” Liesha goes on to say. “So our frustration is that we have friends who absolutely refuse to wear a mask. We don’t want to be the people that give it to someone else, so that is why we wear masks. You wear a mask to protect other people, not yourself…Be mindful and think about other people before you think about yourself. Put on a mask and protect the people around you because just like the doctors told us, we don’t know.”

Turner may potentially be a COVID-19 long hauler. ABC4 News reported about this group of patients who are still suffering long-term effects after recovering from the virus back in August. For more information about their support group on social media, click here.

Click here to download the ABC4 Utah News app for the first alerts on your phone. Sign up for the ABC4 Utah breaking news and daily newsletters.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Utah VP Debate

More Utah Debate