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Tallahassee toddler with kidney disease catches COVID-19 as parents face growing medical costs

Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 10:43 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - It all began with a phone call. That’s how Colleen Nottingham describes the start of an unthinkable journey for her daughter Lorelei.

“It was a shock and it’s been a whirlwind ever sense,” she said.

Until that phone call in early July, Lorelei was a healthy toddler, outside of a host of severe food allergies.

But on the other end of the line was a lab specialist with results of a routine blood test, taken to determine any other possible allergies.

Doctors discovered major protein deficiencies in her blood, later diagnosing her with Minimal Change Disease, a kind of kidney disease. It’s usually treatable, but required regular trips to Shands Hospital in Gainesville for infusions.

The first trip came and went. But a short time later, Lorelei started to vomit.

“It turns out she picked up norovirus from her hospital stay,” she said. Soon, the whole family had it.

Nottingham figured that was the worst things could get. She was wrong.

After the second trip to Shands, Lorelei developed a 102 degree fever. Soon came unwanted confirmation - the toddler had COVID-19.

“It was a big blow when they walked in and said her protein was the lowest it has ever been and she was positive for COVID...that was about four days ago and we just lost it,” Nottingham said.

Soon both Colleen and her husband, Alex, caught breakthrough cases of COVID-19.

“I don’t know who we upset in the karma, but we’re sorry,” she said.

Hospital bills and hotel stays (forced due to pandemic restrictions) are getting costly.

Colleen is set to start her first year as an art teacher at Chaires Elementary School in Leon County. She said that community and other friends are stepping up. A GoFundMe page has already raised several thousand dollars.

Teri Cariota is a close family friend.

“Colleen is the most amazing mother I’ve ever met,” she said. Cariota hopes her friend is feeling the love.

“She’s just a good person, I’d do anything in the world for her,” she said.

And so far, it seems the message was received.

“We’ve been really blessed with all of that and to be able to pay some of these bills is going to be a huge relief,” Nottingham said.

Good news is in short supply, however. Doctors say Lorelei isn’t responding to steroid treatment.

The family will be back in the hospital later this week to explore alternative treatment plans, while also still battling mild symptoms of COVID-19.

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