15-year-old girl with Down syndrome who survived cancer dies of COVID-19

Alexa Rose Veit, a 15-year-old girl born from Kentucky with Down syndrome, survived a cancer diagnosis last year, but has tragically lost her battle with COVID-19.

The teenager from the US was diagnosed with leukaemia in July 2019 and remarkably went into remission just weeks later.

“On day 30 of a two-year treatment plan, she’d beaten cancer,” Kentucky governor Andy Beshear said in a news conference on Thursday.

She was then diagnosed with COVID-19 on November 15 after feeling sick the week of Halloween.

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Her mother picked her up from school after she said she wasn’t feeling well.

Both Alexa and her mum were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the following days.

Her mother was hospitalised and went on a ventilator.

Meanwhile, Alexa initially showed mild symptoms and stayed at home while her mum was in hospital.

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During that time, Alexa’s grandparents also tested positive for coronavirus and were hospitalised.

Alexa’s older sister had also contracted COVID-19 but had recovered.

“As the days went on, Alexa began to feel a little worse each day and was eventually hospitalised due to COVID-19 and the development of pneumonia,” Ballard County Emergency Management director Travis Holder explained.

The teenager was flown to Nashville to be under the care of her regular doctors, where her sister who had recovered from the virus stayed by her side while their mother was still in hospital being treated.

Alexa’s health declined and she was soon placed on a ventilator, Mr Holder explained.

The day after Alexa’s mother was released from a Kentucky hospital and had rushed to her daughter’s side, Alexa tragically and sadly died.

“Alexa was and is a beautiful child of God and I know individuals that looked up to her, individuals whose kids looked up to her. For the positivity and enthusiasm and advocacy that she brought,” the governor said.

“This is a big loss for that community.”

Friends described Alexa as a “social butterfly” with “an infectious smile that could brighten any day”, according to Mr Holder.

She was a freshman at Ballard Memorial High School, a member of the choir, an active member of her church youth group, Mr Holder explained in a Facebook post.

“We have got to come to the realisation that this is real,” Mr Holder wrote.

“This isn’t political, it’s not something that ‘has always been here’ it is real. We must start taking the precautions seriously.”

Mr Beshear also took this as an opportunity to remind the community of the seriousness of the virus and to be safe by wearing a mask in public.

“Those who knew Alexa asked we help raise awareness of how deadly this virus is and how important it is to follow the guidelines in place,” the Kentucky governor said in the news conference.

“Today and every day, I’ll wear my mask for Alexa, and I hope you will too.”

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