A nine-year-old girl who spent two weeks in the hospital after suffering from Covid is learning to walk again – with a charity challenge inspired by Captain Tom.
The brave Emily Saville has lost her mobility and continues to suffer from the effects of Long Covid three months after she was first infected.
She was initially told by medical staff to “sit it out”, but after her symptoms worsened, she spent an additional 13 days in the hospital for a series of tests.
After doctors ruled out anything but Covid, Emily is now on the long road to recovery and still needs a wheelchair and walking aid to get around.
But while she’s struggling to get her life back, the schoolgirl also wanted to give something back to the NHS who treated her – and is now following in the footsteps of Captain Sir Tom Moore.
She’s already raised more than £ 2,000 for NHS Charities Together by doing laps in her yard – and said she’ll keep going until she can do one unaided.
Her father Chris Saville, 42, who lives near Yeovil, Somerset, said the whole experience was terrifying for the family and they wanted to raise awareness of the effects of Long-Covid on children.
He said: “Emily caught Covid for the first time in mid-September but it was fine by then.
“She woke up one day with a slight cough and runny nose and we thought we’d better have it checked out. She got a positive result but was a little bad and had difficulty breathing but nothing too strong.
“Three days later she was suddenly in excruciating pain and couldn’t move without screaming in pain.”
Emily was hospitalized but her family was originally told it was “just Covid” and to “ride it out”.
But she was in constant pain at home and was later admitted to the Yeovil District Hospital in early November, where she stayed for 13 days.
Tests did not reveal any underlying problems so she was discharged, but was so weak on her left side that she could not walk unassisted and needed help with basic tasks like getting dressed.
Chris added, “By the time she left the hospital, they had managed to control her pain, but she had to use a wheelchair and walker to move slowly.
“It was an extremely scary experience for everyone and absolutely blew them away. She has not been able to enjoy life since then.
“We only want to draw attention to Long Covid in children. Until we had this problem we believed that children did not have Covid and when they got it it was very mild and they recovered very quickly. But that was not the case.
“She had MRIs, blood tests, and x-rays to rule out anything else.
“Of course we were glad they didn’t find anything else, but I think even the doctors were speechless from the start. Not many children were so badly affected and not much research was done about the effects of Covid on children.”
Chris said that before Emily was infected, she was a “normal, happy, healthy nine-year-old” who swam several times a week and enjoyed theater and drama.
He added, “It was horrible and Emily found it really hard. She has good friends who have helped her, but these have been dark days for all of us. Emily was pretty scared the whole time.
“When she was released we had to help her with everyday tasks like getting up, washing, etc. She really struggled and as someone just trying to gain independence, she found it really difficult.
“Before that happened, she was perfectly fit and healthy. She was just a normal nine year old girl.
“It’s been slow since then, but she’s starting to regain some independence.”
Chris said the idea for her charity challenge came while she was in the hospital and decided to give back to the staff who had helped her.
He added, “She first took on the challenge of doing 17 laps in the garden to mark the 14 days in the hospital and the three months she was exposed.
“It gave her the motivation to get up and do sports.
“She set a very low goal of 100 pounds, but it has gone so much further and she is absolutely overwhelmed with the support she has received.
“Now she wants to keep going until she can do a lap in the garden on her own without help.
“It’s still a huge challenge from your current point of view and was unthinkable at the beginning.
“She got the idea from Sir Captain Tom Moore, who did something similar and was inspired and strived for something.”
Chris said when she started the first round she had to stop around the house a few times, but as she progressed her resilience increased.
“She can now walk around the house with her rollator and take a few steps without assistance. We’re building this, but it’s encouraging to see their progress. She has now done 25 laps and is still improving.
“It’s getting there but still not normal. She is still very weak on the left but has started spending a few hours a day in school.
“The question Emily always asks is, ‘When will I get better?’ There really is no answer to that, it seems to be getting stronger every day.
“She’s going to have a good day walking around with her rollator. But the next day she’ll be in agony again and have to hide from the world. It’s very cruel and we just don’t know how it’s going to go.” . “
On the Just Giving page, Emily’s take on Covid, Emily said the support had been “overwhelming”.
She added, “I’ve decided to push myself a little further and now I want to do a lap without my walker.
“This will be an even bigger challenge for me. Thank you for all your kind words.”