A  young child from Steinbach continues to fight her intestinal issues along with dealing with her Covid long-haul diagnosis.

In November of 2019, 2-year-old Hallie Thiessen was diagnosed with Eosinophilic Disease.  This rare disorder inflames her intestines and tricks them into believing she is allergic to food causing tremendous pain.

And then COVID hit her little body in November of 2020 complicating her ongoing health struggles. Hallie and her mom Cari have been at the hospital more than home as of late. And the effect on her body has been harmful.  Cari says, "the effect that it's had on Hallie and the existing GI condition has been detrimental and it's just getting worse and worse."

Hallie has been in the hospital for 4.5 of the last 6 months that looks like an endless cycle of heading to the ER and getting admitted.  Cari says, "none of that time is spent trying to actually fix anything. All we're trying to do is just maintain and get her to a place where she's stable enough to go home. And often that just means we go home and we struggle through the next few days or few weeks until we just can't hold on anymore."

Hallie's parents, Jon and Cari Thiessen say that she has experienced a great weight loss in the last week, dropping down to a bodyweight of 13 pounds. They recently had a meeting with Hallie's team of doctors and specialists where they were given an update.  Doctors believe Hallie is heading into intestinal failure. And at this point, they don’t know what else they can do to keep her intestines functioning.  Hallie is now being referred to a motility clinic in Montreal for further insight. 

Cari has talked to several infections disease doctors at the Children's Hospital, and they believe that Covid has worsened her condition and have officially diagnosed Hallie as a 'Covid Long-Hauler'. Those experts say the data they are seeing for other patients with similar diseases points to Covid worsening the conditions of those struggling with intestinal issues. 

The data from the vaccine rollout has also been enlightening to the infectious disease experts. According to Cari, experts are seeing some positive signs from the vaccine specifically for Covid long-haulers that have issues similar to Hallie. 'They're finding that these issues are starting to resolve once they get the covid vaccine.'  This news brings hope to the Thiessen family's situation.

But since Hallie is only 2 years old, they anticipate a long wait for her to be vaccinated. The approval process for young children is still ongoing. Cari says,  'they're thinking maybe December or January, but when you're in our situation, that just sounds like years from now.'

Cari says she cried tears of joy when the age for vaccine appointments lowered to 35 plus. 'I've just been waiting and waiting because I'm so scared that somehow we are going to catch a variant and Hallie will get it. Our experience the first time was so bad, I can't even imagine.'

When asked what she would like to say to people who are on the fence about getting the vaccine, Cari responded that she doesn't like that this has become a political issue. 'I can only do so much to protect her. It really needs to be a whole community effort. Just do good research and just try to help others, help your family, and help Hallie.'

In the midst of all the appointments and meetings with Hallie's doctors, the Thiessen's sold their house.  This meant moving in the middle of a lockdown that took place while Hallie was in the hospital with Cari by her side.  With the help of the community,  Jon got his family moved. 

According to Cari, 'Jon said there were about 15 people here.  There were even businesses that asked their employees if they wanted to help and they showed up in company vehicles with their trailers. It was quite amazing.' Jon had the house in order before Cari and Hallie arrived back home from their latest time at the hospital.

Doctors have told the Thiessen family that their future right now will be full of time spent at the hospital until they figure out what they can do for Hallie.  For now, Hallie is currently at home...in her new room with her family. 

Some ways the community can help the Thiessen family are freezer meals and gift cards (particularly for fuel). For donations, please email jcthiessen@live.ca 


Written by Corny Rempel and Carly Koop