'It was just like my body was giving up': Minnesota teen describes battle with COVID-19

Young and healthy, 17-year-old Ella Winston thought she'd recover quickly when diagnosed with COVID-19. But the illness ended up putting her into the hospital.

Ella Winston, a 17 year old from Wayzata, was hospitalized for ten days after testing positive for COVID19 late last month.

Ella’s mom, Sarah Winston, says on Friday, October 30 Ella was told that a friend, who she had been in contact with, tested positive for COVID-19. Because of that exposure, Ella got a COVID test. The test was taken on a Friday. On Saturday, she was feeling sick and was informed that her test came back positive.

Ella is an active dancer. She’s the captain of the Wayzata High School dance team and also dances competitively. She also doesn’t have any underlying health conditions, so she didn’t think much of the diagnosis.

“I thought I was just going to have a few symptoms -- like I started just getting a cough but then it just kept increasing and getting worse,” Ella said. 

By Sunday, just two days after taking a COVID test, Ella was so sick her mom took her to the hospital. Their main concern was Ella’s dehydration. 

“It just kind of hit her like a ton of bricks if you will,” Sarah said. 

By Monday, Ella was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Sarah said doctors told her Ella was experiencing kidney, liver and heart failure.

“Her body was definitely shutting down, definitely a scary time in the ICU,” Sarah said.

“It was just like my body was giving up and I was like losing hope because all my body was just weak and I couldn’t really feel anything,” Ella said.

Over the next several days, Ella would be on oxygen and sedated several times while her body fought the virus. By Tuesday, ten days after being admitted to the hospital, she was healthy enough to go home.

“I’m doing better I’m not doing 100% but better,” Ella said.

Ella is still experiencing some symptoms. Her doctors also told her that because of her heart failure, she’ll be on medication for the next six months and won’t be able to exercise for at least another three months, putting an end to Ella’s senior year dance season.

“I’m always moving, I’m always active, I’m always dancing but now that’s taken away from me so I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to do for three to six months,” Ella said.

Currently, 20 percent of the COVID-19 cases that have been confirmed in Minnesota have been among people ages 10 to 24. Ella and her mom want people to know how dangerous COVID can be, even for young people and want everyone to take staying home and social distancing seriously.

“It literally can save someone else from having to go through the awful experience that we did with Ella and trust me when I say Ella and I don’t wish this on anyone,” Sarah said.

A GoFundMe page has been started to help Sarah pay for the medical bills her insurance won’t cover. That page has already raised more than $120,000 dollars. Sarah says a lot of that support has come from the dance community.