18-month-old's mystery fever and swollen lips were symptoms of Kawasaki disease

By Lindsey Giardino, American Heart Association News

Konner Hall was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease at 18 months old. He is now a healthy 8-year-old. (Photo courtesy of the Hall family)
Konner Hall, now 8, was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease at 18 months old. (Photo courtesy of the Hall family)

As a toddler, Konner Hall showed a knack for hitting milestones early.

At 9 months old, he started walking. By 14 months, he was potty trained.

He also had a tendency to get ear infections. So when he was 18 months old and woke up one morning with a low-grade fever, his parents – Stephanie and Justin Hall of Cottonwood, Alabama – figured it was just another ear infection.

By that night, Konner's temperature was 104 degrees, high enough for his parents to take him to the emergency room. The doctor said Konner was just dehydrated, so he sent them home with instructions to give the boy more fluids.

A couple days later, Konner woke up in the middle of the night crying. His fever had spiked to over 104 degrees. His parents rushed him to the other ER in their area, hoping for fresh insight. The doctor there gave the same diagnosis: Konner was just dehydrated and needed fluids.

Stephanie and Justin felt certain there was more to it. After all, Konner's lips were so swollen that it looked as if someone had punched him. He had bumps all over his tongue. His body was covered in rashes. He wouldn't let anyone touch him without crying.

The next morning, Stephanie and Justin took Konner to the pediatrician. Right away, the doctor said: "He's got Kawasaki disease."

Kawasaki disease is a disease of small and medium blood vessels in the body, including arteries of the heart. It develops suddenly and causes a high fever and inflammation of the blood vessels. The exact cause of the disease is unknown. It tends to affect the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle. It typically affects children under the age of 5, more often boys than girls.

It can become life-threatening if it's not diagnosed within the first five to seven days of symptoms.

Konner was diagnosed on day five.

Konner Hall with his mom, Stephanie, in the hospital. (Photo courtesy of the Hall family)
Konner Hall with his mom, Stephanie, in the hospital. (Photo courtesy of the Hall family)

Over the next seven days, Konner received infusions of antibodies, which is standard treatment for Kawasaki disease. He was allowed to go home once he went 24 hours without a fever. His parents were told to bring him back if a fever returned in the next 24 hours.

A few hours later, Konner had a fever of 102. So back they went to the hospital. He received another infusion. After no fever for 24 hours, they were sent home with the same instructions.

Konner never had to return.

For the next six months, he took one aspirin a day to help keep the fevers at bay and prevent blood clots.

Now 8, Konner will always be a carrier of the disease, which is often treatable with early diagnosis and cannot be passed on to another person. His chances of further complications reduce greatly the older he gets.

Today, Konner is a happy, healthy boy full of energy.

He loves playing baseball, coloring and all things wrestling – from watching WWE to rolling around with his dad. He's also still advanced for his age. A teacher recently called Stephanie and asked if the school could test Konner for the gifted and talented program.

Konner Hall is still advanced for his age and loves to play baseball. (Photo courtesy of the Hall family)
Kawasaki disease survivor Konner Hall loves to play baseball. (Photo courtesy of the Hall family)

"Having a 104-degree temperature for days on end at 18 months old could have messed with Konner's brain, but it didn't," Stephanie said.

Or, as Konner himself puts it: "Kawasaki disease didn't weaken me. It made me stronger."

Stories From the Heart chronicles the inspiring journeys of heart disease and stroke survivors, caregivers and advocates.

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