Mother of coronavirus-positive 9-year-old girl ‘waiting for a miracle’ in medical mystery

Three months ago, she was a healthy 9-year-old girl who missed interacting with her classmates and teachers at Wildwood Elementary School.

Now Dorielis Reyes is lying in a hospital bed, attached to wires, cords and a ventilator, a medical mystery to the doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and other physicians around the world who have been consulted.

Her mother, Doranny Paula, said doctors have said her daughter is in the “process of dying.”

Read those words again: “Process of dying.”

“It’s so hard,” Paula said Thursday afternoon while standing outside her daughter’s hospital room. “You never expect your kid, so young, to get this sick.”

The mother could be heard crying over the phone.

“Waiting for a miracle,” she said. “She could die at any moment.”

The last three months — since her daughter, the oldest of her five children, was admitted into the hospital on May 19 — have been a blur for Paula, 31, who moved from Maryland to Middletown in 2014 to be with her aunt.

Paula never has left her daughter’s side. She sleeps right there in the room with Dorielis, a fourth-grader at Wildwood.

After Dorielis complained the left side of her body was weak and she was having trouble walking, she was taken to the hospital. She was tested for COVID-19 and was positive, her mother said.

Then an MRI showed inflammation on the brain. She was treated for possible multiple sclerosis, but the medications had no effect, her mother said.

Another biopsy was performed on June 19 and that showed Dorielis had vasculitis, inflammation of the blood vessels that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the blood vessel.

After receiving treatments, Dorielis began moving her left arm that had been paralyzed. But another MRI revealed the inflammation in her brain continued growing. She suffered from severe headaches, had an epileptic seizure on July 19 and was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit.

“Don’t know what’s next,” her mother said.

The Middletown community has responded to the needs of the family. Days after Paula established a GoFundMe account, her $15,000 goal was exceeded by $1,000 through more than 400 donations.

Chris Rehmert, Dorielis’ homeroom, math and science teacher, has been in the district for 29 years. She has seen the community rally behind its residents before.

“This city has a heart of gold, a heart of Middie purple,” she said.

Another Wildwood teacher, Taylor Williamson, said Dorielis possesses a “sweet, positive and bubbly” personality. As a teacher, Williamson, in her fifth year, also tries to highlight the potential in her students.

“She is one of those who has a passion for school, a passion for learning,” Williamson said. “I just hope that we get a chance to see her potential get realized.”

Paula said she remembers intimate mother-daughter conversations they shared even before Dorielis was sick.

“She always said, ‘I’m going to be with Jesus,‘” her mother said. “I want to go be with Jesus. I want to go first.”

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