'Worst week of my life': Former MAFS star's baby facing new health concerns weeks after contracting Covid-19

Anna Saxton and her daughter Meara tested positive for Covid-19 on September 30. Five-month-old Meara has since been admitted to hospital for unexplained episodes her mother describes as terrifying.
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Anna Saxton and her daughter Meara tested positive for Covid-19 on September 30. Five-month-old Meara has since been admitted to hospital for unexplained episodes her mother describes as terrifying.

A former reality television star’s baby tested positive for Covid-19 seven weeks ago and is now having “episodes” in which she stiffens and goes red.

Former Married At First Sight NZ contestant Anna Saxton, 28, her fiance, Dave Kahu, 32, and their 5-month-old daughter, Meara, all tested positive on September 30. The couple believe Kahu contracted the virus at a construction site in Auckland.

Saxton still gets a chesty cough at random and sometimes loses taste and smell, while little Meara is having “episodes” during which her arms stiffen, her eyes glaze over, and she goes red.

It is not yet confirmed if the episodes are linked to Covid-19. An electroencephalogram (EEG) scan, a test that detects electrical activity in the brain, on Wednesday will determine the cause.

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It looks like she’s being electrocuted during the episodes, her mother said.

“It’s been terrifying – I don't think I slept for three days. It’s been the worst week of my life.

“She cries after an episode, and it takes her time to recover. It is so scary.”

Doctors have indicated that the episodes could be seizures, but Meara is still undiagnosed.

“They don't know what to treat, and they’re consulting with Starship [children's hospital] trying to figure possible links,” Saxton said.

“I’m holding out for tomorrow [Wednesday] – we will have the EEG and if they don’t find anything with that she will have an MRI and a lumbar puncture,” Saxton said.

Baby Meara is having tests done at Waikato Hospital on November 17 to determine the cause of her recent episodes.
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Baby Meara is having tests done at Waikato Hospital on November 17 to determine the cause of her recent episodes.

The family moved to Cambridge in October to be close to family, and they believe Kahu contracted the virus at work in Auckland after the move into alert level 3.

He started feeling unwell after his first day back, later came down with chills and a fever, and the family tested positive for Covid-19.

Saxton and Kahu had both received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the time.

“You honestly never think you could get [Covid]. It was a bit surreal. But I was so terrified we would contract it,” Saxton said.

Saxton said the most important thing about managing Covid-19 was getting tested.

“If we didn’t get tested I probably would have thought I didn’t have it.”

The family spent 10 days in managed isolation at Jet Park. Saxton had very mild symptoms but Meara had fevers on and off.

“Staff got concerned when she stopped eating and wondered whether she should be admitted to hospital, but after five days we were all on the mend.”

They were home again on November 9, when Meara had her first episode.

“I saw her arms stiffen out and then turn really red, and then she would take a gasp. I didn’t think much of it.”

But Saxton took Meara to a GP when it happened again the next day, and the 5-month-old ended up in Waikato Hospital.

“As we were leaving she had two episodes in my arms. It was absolutely terrifying.”

Meara was in and out of the hospital for the rest of the weekend.

A scientific review at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia found lingering symptoms of Covid-19 rarely persist in children beyond 12 weeks – a sign that children are far less likely than adults to suffer debilitating effects of what is referred to as long Covid.

Long Covid is not an official medical term, but it is used to describe people still suffering symptoms of the virus longer than the official World Health Organisation’s recognised two-week period.

The most common symptoms after infection among children were headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, concentration difficulties and abdominal pain.

Lead researcher Professor Nigel Curtis, a paediatric infectious diseases specialist, said the data strongly showed that Covid remained a mild disease in children and hospital admissions were rare.

But existing studies on long Covid in children had “major limitations”, he said.

“There have been figures ranging from anywhere from 7 per cent [of children infected with the virus developing long Covid] through to even higher numbers, but actually, that really does not bear out upon closer scrutiny of those studies.”

The research suggests long Covid remains far more prevalent in adults, affecting anywhere between 10 per cent and 30 per cent of adults infected with the virus.