In his work Wilmington pediatrician Jeffrey Manser meets with children and their parents. Things were turned around when he became critically ill with COVID-19; then it was Manser and his family finding themselves wrapped in support and love from the community.
Dr. Manser returned home this week after being hospitalized a month, during which he lost 50 pounds and experienced a concerning setback after having shown improvement.
“It’s been a long and at times seemingly dark road, but you know our church family, our families at work, just everybody that has called and written cards and brought food and prayed and prayed and prayed for Jeff. It’s been amazing. We’re just forever grateful,” said his wife, Dr. Tina Gabbard.
Manser is on quite a bit of oxygen at home, and is very weak. But his physicians felt like he would get stronger sooner and eat better and that his overall mental status would be better at home, Gabbard said.
His pulmonologists think that Manser will completely recover, but it’s going to take a while, she said.
Manser had been sick at home before Gabbard took him to the hospital when his mental status seemed to be somewhat altered and he was running a higher fever each day, and his oxygen level had dropped, which they knew because they had brought home a medical device from the office.
He was put on two medications to elevate his blood pressure. And he was hooked up to a ventilator.
Manser developed a condition where “the immune system just goes into over-drive and causes harm to the body,” said Gabbard. The condition made his fever higher and can lead to blood clots, which it did, with blood clots detected in both his legs.
He was removed from the ventilator after four days, following the use of Interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors, said Gabbard.
IL-6 inhibitors are used to help combat the over-active immune response, “they kind of dampen it,” she explained.
Manser started to improve almost immediately after he was treated with IL-6.
However, he continued to require extremely high levels of oxygen, and his condition basically remained unchanged for days. His fever then began to spike again; he started to have blood pressure issues again; and his lab results started to look like they did the first week he went into the hospital.
“He looked very, very ill again,” said Dr. Gabbard.
One of his pulmonologists recommended repeating the IL-6 inhibitor and as soon as they gave it everything started to turn around again, she said.
After Manser’s April 3 admission to Bethesda North Hospital, news spread fast in Clinton County about the pediatrician’s illness.
“That first 48 hours was extremely scary for us. And I was made aware of how many people just walked through that with us, and how many people stayed up all night in prayer, and just felt it almost as much, if not as much, as we did,” said Gabbard.
“I don’t really have the words to tell you how grateful I am and how much that has helped in just knowing that so many people were praying and thinking of us, and supporting us through it, and continue to.”
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.