Wayzata Teen Battles Severe COVID Complications

Wayzata is a terrific community. If you need a reminder, just ask Wayzata resident Sarah Winston.

Ella Winston, Courtesy GoFundMe

Her 17-year-old daughter Ella, a senior at Wayzata High School, contracted COVID-19. At first blush, knowing the disease is worse for older folks and those with underlying health conditions, you’d think Ella, a young, healthy person would have no problem. But this was not the case.

“She is a healthy, student athlete who has a zest for life and loves to dance,” said Sarah Winston. “She is sweet, kind, caring, thoughtful, loving, funny, driven, and hardworking, to name a few.”
Sarah and Ella Winston, Courtesy GoFundMe

Ella tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday Oct. 30. She was later admitted to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis two days later.
The next morning, she was moved to ICU because of major complications she had fighting the disease.

Initially, she had a severe cough, sore throat, vomiting, chest pain and a temperature of 104.5 degrees. 
Doctors quickly identified that she also had kidney failure.

On Day 5 in ICU, as if Sarah Winston didn’t have enough on her mind, she found out that insurance was not going to cover her daughter’s hospitalization. You see, Sarah is a single mom of three children.

Despite Sarah, initial resistance, a good friend, Jen Rasmussen, had an idea. She suggested they start a GoFundMe page to help raise the necessary funds to cover Ella’s medical expenses.

Meanwhile, doctor’s worked to stabilize Ella’s blood pressure – it was too low after battling COVID and an infection. Fortunately, as her blood pressure went up, her temperature was going down.

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, the Winstons learned Ella had a bacterial staph infection. Ella was fighting multiple fronts. Ella was also put on oxygen because those levels were too low.

Although she had severe mouth and throat pain, her blood pressure and oxygen levels stabilized and it seemed like her body was better able to fight the infection with the help of antibiotics.

As Ella fought, her mother was right there with her, sleeping at the hospital, not leaving her side. As Sarah prayed for her daughter’s recovery, she reminded Ella that she was not alone.

“I’ve prayed every night, as I know others have, (she has an army of prayer warriors) that she heals and gets better with each new day,” said Winston. “I have also prayed each night that no one else has to go through the awful suffering that she has.”

Unfortunately, Ella has been diagnosed with myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart, but she is steadily improving. Just another obstacle for her to overcome.

She has Facetimed her friends – a sure sign this teen is feeling a bit better.

Her message to other parents is to follow the CDC guidelines and keep their children home after being exposed by someone who tested positive. She believes things would be different if proper precautions were taken.

“My own daughter would not have been exposed and she would not have ended up in the ICU with COVID turned to pneumonia, heart failure, kidney failure, liver distress, along with a staph bacterial infection, just to name a few issues she’s dealing with. I don’t wish this onto anyone.”

Back to the GoFundMe page that Rasmussen convinced Sarah Winston to do. Within two days of launching, the fundraiser had totaled more than $100,000 out of a $150,000 goal. And we’re not talking about a handful of big donations, this was truly grass roots. To date, there were roughly 2,000 separate donations with only a handful over the $1,000 mark.

“Overwhelming, to put it lightly,” said Winston. “We feel beyond blessed and thankful for the outpouring of love, prayers and well wishes.”

It doesn’t necessarily take a horrific situation like the one the Winston’s are enduring to remind us how great the Wayzata community is. But a situation like this does a great job of shining a light on that fact.
You can find out more about the GoFundMe fundraiser for Ella here.

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