Mom watches son ‘lay there and suffer’ as athlete fights COVID in Oklahoma hospital

Blackwell High School football player Levi Barnett is hospitalized with COVID-19.

Blackwell High School football player Levi Barnett is hospitalized with COVID-19.

Screengrab, FrankieHeather Blakley on Facebook

As an Oklahoma high school football player is hospitalized with COVID, his family is by his side through the fight.

“Every day is just heart wrenching seeing him lay there and suffer,” mother Heatherlynn Barnett said, according to KFOR. Her son, 16-year-old Levi Barnett, is at OU Children’s Hospital with COVID-19, double lung pneumonia and strep throat after he tested positive for the coronavirus about two weeks ago.

“It gets depressing,” she told the Oklahoma TV station. “You just sit there and you watch your sick child and all you can do is just pray for them to be better.”

Levi is a Blackwell High School football player, KWTV reported, who also has autism.

During Friday’s football game, Levi’s team ran his jersey onto the field in his honor, KWTV reported. That same night, Levi was placed on a ventilator.

This comes about a week after his mother wrote “he’s a fighter and not giving up” in a Facebook comment.

A day before, Barnett updated friends and family that the teen was “holding his own at the moment,” but he didn’t have the strength to stand.

While asking for prayers in a Facebook post, Toni Annette Egerer said Levi was struggling to breathe, but he has a “big future ahead of him and an even bigger heart.”

“For all of us who know him his life hasn’t been easy by any means,” she continued. “Levi is a fighter he is strong and this will not get him.”

Barnett says doctors expect Levi to be a COVID “long-hauler” with lasting side effects if he survives, KFOR reported, and he could be in the hospital for months.

“At this point, there’s not really anything else that they can do for him besides let his body fight,” Barnett said, according to KFOR.

The Barnett family is unvaccinated, KWTV reported, but they now have plans to get the COVID vaccine.

“I was against it for a while there myself. I’ll be honest, I didn’t take it serious either,” Barnett said, according to the TV station. “You just don’t take it serious until it hits home.”

Oklahoma State Department of Health reports 568,874 COVID cases and 8,208 COVID-related deaths as of Saturday. More than 32,000 people have been hospitalized with COVID in Oklahoma.

There are 1,768,580 fully-vaccinated Oklahomans and 2,144,418 have received at least one dose.

COVID-19 vaccines are effective at protecting you from COVID-19, especially severe illness and death,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. “COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of people spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Oklahoma, like every other state in the U.S., currently has a high level of community transmission, according to the CDC.

Kaitlyn Alanis is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter based in Kansas. She is an agricultural communications & journalism alumna of Kansas State University.

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