COVID-19 migrating from member to member in a family household is not an uncommon story for many of the city's residents and it wasn't particularly unique for Aisha and Jacob Lincz. The family of five all had dealt with COVID-19, including the couple's daughters and their son 7-year-old Preston. The family recovered and life went on, or so they thought. 

Jacob, who works out of town came home on September 7, to find that his son, Preston was having trouble falling asleep. He was coughing persistently and had a fever. His father hoped that with a dose of Children's Tylenol and a good night's sleep, both the fever and cough would pass. By the next day, Lincz's son made a startling revelation. He told them his urine was purple. 30 minutes later, Preston's parents realized their son was in fact passing blood in his urine. 

They rushed Preston to Airdrie's Urgent Care Centre in the afternoon and by 10 p.m. that night, Preston was admitted to the Alberta Children's Hospital. He would undergo a battery of tests and doctors determined that Preston had Cold Agglutinin Disease (CAD).  

According to the Mayo Clinic, CAD is a very rare autoimmune hemolytic anemia in which cold temperatures activate one's immune system to destroy red blood cells. Jacob noted that even though Preston was still sick during the first few days in the hospital, he seemed to be more himself, but things took a turn for the worse. 

"He wanted to walk all the way down from the third floor of the hospital to the main floor to go get his ultrasound, so we did that, and as we got down there, Preston began to get cold. We covered him up, but we noticed he had to go to the bathroom, and he went completely pale," Preston's father said. "He had more blood in his urine which was just awful." 

Preston's parents patiently waited as more tests and analyses were done, although by Saturday Preston was no longer able to pass urine. By this time, various specialists immediately suggested a biopsy would have to be performed as ultrasounds of Preston's kidneys were troubling doctors. 

"We got the results that evening at about eight o'clock and they came to the room in a hurry. Aisha [my wife] was at home with our little girls and I was at the hospital with Preston. They pulled me out of the room and said, 'you need to come with us, we need to have a serious discussion. We need your wife on the phone immediately. '" 

One of Preston's kidneys was on the verge of shutting down, while the other was functioning at 50 per cent. Doctors explained that with the Cold Agglutinin Disease, Preston's autoimmune system had started attacking his organs and it could have triggered several different reactions, including hemolytic uremic syndrome; however, doctors still had no definitive diagnosis for the family.  

Preston would be rushed to the ICU to start plasmapheresis. The main concern of both doctors and his parents was that other organs, including Preston's heart, would also be in danger of shutting down. Aisha, Preston's mom said the family is still unsure if Preston will need a kidney transplant, though the family is hopeful his kidneys will in time repair themselves. 

"I mean, it looks like he will [need a transplant]. I'm praying that there's some recovery with the kidney that is functioning at 50 per cent, but likely, the damage was very bad. But the [kidney transplant] is about a year out." 

Jacob said that doctors are working around the clock to try and pinpoint what exactly could have triggered the CAD in Preston, which in turn attacked his kidneys. There are many theories that doctors are positing, though they said there is a possibility that prior infection of mycoplasma pneumonia, sometimes referred to as 'walking pneumonia, may have triggered this.  

While mycoplasma pneumoniae bacteria are often the result of mild respiratory infections, they can sometimes lead to much more serious health complications, especially if someone's immune system is already recovering from a previous infection. Preston's father said that doctors told him, that while similar cases have been seen in children, his son's case is exceedingly rare.  

"We as parents want to spread awareness and let people know how serious getting sick can be. We are really hoping Preston will bridge this gap, but we don't know how his immune system is going to react when he's off of these machines and we don't know what our boy's life looks like for him long-term," he said. "Had we maybe not let him go over to his friends or have his friends over, normal things that children do, but maybe this could have been prevented? We don't know." 

Preston's mother echoed and similar sentiment, saying that before his hospitalization, Preston was a perfectly healthy child. 

"I think people need to remain really vigilant and continue handwashing and doing what we can to prevent the spread of [sickness]. Stay at home when you're sick," she said. "You could kill somebody; you could change somebody's life. I never ever would have thought this would have happened to us ever and that's what every parent thinks." 

Although the next few weeks will be trying for Preston and his parents, there is support around the family. Aisha's sister-in-law, Leigh-Anne Lincz set up a gofundme campaign for the family, to help with everyday expenses.  

"'I'm just so grateful for strangers and for the support of so many people who have reached out. It's so truly amazing and it does make us feel like we're all together in this and that there is some hope." 

Over $9,000 dollars has been raised for the family as they continue to shuttle between Airdrie and the Alberta Children's Hospital, waiting for news and on answers for why Preston's health took such a drastic turn. 

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