Girl, 11, Struggles to Walk, Needs Feeding Tube One Year After Catching COVID

A British girl with long COVID still has to be fed via a tube one year after she contracted the virus.

Tillie Adams, an 11-year-old from east London, caught COVID-19 in January 2021, reported The Mirror newspaper. She spent weeks in hospital and, even now, is often too ill to go to school.

Tillie's weight has plummeted because she has difficulty eating. Since the summer of 2021, the girl has received nutrients through a nasogastric or NG tube—a thin, soft tube that goes in through the nose, down the throat and into the stomach.

The 11-year-old also struggles to walk up the stairs in her home and has fainted several times. She told the paper: "Sometimes I get so angry, I want to go to school, but it's just so hard, some days I can't because I'm just so tired and so washed out."

When first diagnosed with COVID, the young girl suffered from the symptoms most commonly associated with the virus—loss of smell and taste, headaches and a fever. Unusually, however, these symptoms were replaced with headaches, stomach pains and difficulty eating.

As a result, Tillie went from a kid who enjoyed playing outside to staying in bed, too scared to move.

The U.K's National Health Service defines long COVID as an informal term for signs and symptoms that continue or develop after an acute COVID infection.

It applies to ongoing symptomatic COVID, when symptoms continue for more than four weeks, as well as post-COVID syndrome, when symptoms that can't be attributed to any other condition continue for longer than 12 weeks.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person of any age who has contracted COVID may experience post-COVID conditions, although it is less common in children and adolescents.

The CDC added that the most common symptoms in children were tiredness or fatigue, headache, insomnia, trouble concentrating, muscle and joint pain, and coughs.

The agency's website states: "The best way to prevent post-COVID conditions is to prevent COVID-19 illness. For people who are eligible, getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as you can is the best way to prevent getting COVID-19 and can also help protect those around you."

Children aged 5 and above are eligible for the vaccine in the U.S.

Tillie is now helping researchers at University College Hospital in London to understand long COVID in children, as well as using her Instagram account to demonstrate that COVID isn't just a disease that affects adults. According to The Mirror, the social media account where she documents her symptoms and experiences has already garnered thousands of followers.

Child with saline drip
Stock image of a sick child with a saline drip. A girl from England was left with a feeding tube and unable to move after a year with long COVID Golfcuk/GETTY