6-year-old COVID victim with severe skin condition in Dumaguete gets to open eyes

Published June 18, 2021, 8:41 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – A young girl from Dumaguete City who is suffering from a severe skin condition suspected to be related to her getting afflicted with COVID-19 is slowly seeing the light, literally.

6-year-old Ysabelle or Ysa, hadn’t opened her eyes for days after being diagnosed with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, which is a severe form of inflammatory cascading response of the whole body caused by the virus.

Ysa’s mother Milanie could not hide her elation after seeing her daughter regain her ability to open her eyes, thanks to the selfless effort of ophthalmologist Frances Hope Yap who has been offering her services as her way of helping her fellow medical practitioners.

In her Facebook post on June 9, the Dumaguete City-based Yap said she was in the middle of a “much-needed, urgent break” when a call for help came. A few days before the call, Yap had to close her stand-alone outpatient eye clinic and surgicenter as COVID cases started to rise in the city.

While the self-imposed break was needed “for my body, mind and heart,” Yap didn’t hesitate to “come into the pits” and answer the call of duty.

Yap’s friend, a pediatric pulmonologist, reached out to her, asking her to extend a helping hand to a COVID-19 patient.

“With her endearing yet concerned voice, she asked me on the phone to come into the pits as an ophthalmologist and examine an admitted pediatric COVID-19 patient,” said Yap.

Heavily clad in Level 4 Personal Protective Equipment, Yap proceeded to a hospital room “where a weak and distraught little 6-year-old girl, Ysa, struggled in bed with her hoarse breathing and eyes shut together.”

Upon checking the girl, Yap found multiple violaceous skin patches and blisters all over Ysa’s face, arms and chest.

The girl’s lips looked like it was scalded, severely swollen, cracked with blisters and necrotic black tissues, seeping with serosanguinous fluid in the raw areas in between.

“The pedia resident whispered to me that Ysa’s tongue and airways were also found to be swollen, thus her hoarse breathing. Her eyelids swollen as well, and apposed together with matted eyelashes,” said Yap.

“I struggled to approach Ysa and attempted to engage with her; explaining to her that I am assigned in taking care of her eyes. She winced and started shaking her head in disapproval as I started dropping ophthalmic topical anesthetic drops to each of her eyelids, wetting the matted (sticky) lashes,” disclosed Yap.

Yap went on to perform debridement, a process of painfully removing the debris off her lashes and eyelids.

“My heart started to bleed as the skin of her eyelid margins started to slough off with the gunk that I removed,” she said.

Yap parted the girl’s eyelids open by using a bladed pediatric eye speculum to pry her eyes open.

“Removing the speculum, I begged Ysa to stay with me and then for her to try to count the fingers that I held infront of her. With her weak voice, she struggled… Fiiiiveee… Ttttwwoooo… Fiiiiiiveeee,” Yap narrated.

During the process, Yap heard the girl’s mom blurt “Thank you, Loooooord! Thank you kayo (thank you very much, Dooooc!”

“There was a strong tug in my heart and it bled some more. Teary eyed, I wanted to hug Milanie, but I couldn’t. So, I paused for a moment and squeezed her arm instead,” said Yap.

Yap then opened the Ishihara Color Vision Chart in front of Ysa’s line of vision and asked her to read some of the numbers embedded in the round color plates.

“She slowly mutters, ‘Pizzaaah!’ My tears flowed like a river and I couldn’t even wipe them off as they rolled down my cheek. Struggling to keep a “high-spirited” mood, I told her that we will get her a pizza when she gets better,” Yap added.

After the entire process in the hospital room, Yap then proceeded to her car where emotions ran higher.

“As I headed towards my car in the doctors’ parking lot outside the hospital, my heart was heavier than my whole-clinic-in-one suitcase. It was tight. After removing and disinfecting my respirator with Lysol wipes, I turned on my car AC and bluetooth stereo; Spotify on playing, “Don’t be Afraid” by Nico and Vinz on repeat. With head bowed down, I just kept crying and crying. In the parking lot. What a humbling experience. To me, it’s nothing to pry eyes open like that. But to them, to Milanie and Ysa, it was the world,” she said.

In the Facebook post, Yap said Ysa is still fighting for her life in the hospital and is currently in need of financial support.

“For donations, you may deposit directly to their Union Bank Account Number: 109652974764, under the account name of the mother Milanie Tavera, Or to Ysa’s Aunt Abegail Llanto through Gcash 0926 834 5084.. You may also contact Ysa’s Father, Felix Bustamante with cellphone number 09677354434,” read the post.