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Young family with 2-year-old recounts ‘terrifying’ COVID-19 diagnosis

Last Updated Nov 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm MDT

MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – A Montreal family was given the scare of a lifetime when their two-year-old boy began gasping for breath because of COVID-19.

Sabrina Mezzacappa and Justin Sanchez called 911 after their son Leo started having difficulty breathing shortly after contracting the virus.

“When you have your child not able to breathe, take in a deep breath and gasping for breath, it’s extremely terrifying,” said Mezzacappa.

“He was coughing, he couldn’t take a breath, couldn’t speak because of how hard he was coughing. We did have to call an ambulance for him. That’s so terrifying as a parent.”

Leo was the first to present symptoms of the virus with a fever and vomiting at the end of October. Mezzacappa and Sanchez – both in their 30s – contracted COVID-19 soon afterwards.

“We are a young family,” said Mezzacappa. “When we hear about COVID-19, we’re not the people you see. I want to give a face to those people.”

Sabrina Mezzacappa and Justin Sanchez called 911 after their son Leo began having difficulty breathing shortly after contracting the virus. (Credit: INSTAGRAM/Sabrina Mezzacappa)

The whole family – otherwise healthy – tested positive for the virus during the first week of November. They all suffered serious symptoms. Instead of seeking emergency care in a hospital, both parents decided to stay behind and care for their son.

“I’m asthmatic, so I had a lot of difficulty breathing,” said Sanchez. “Really the scariest part and the struggle: not being able to go to the hospital to have it checked. My wife is sick, my son is sick, and it was the same for her.”

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Leo recovered within a week. Mezzacappa and Sanchez needed two weeks to recover, and say they are still feeling the effects of COVID-19 to this day.

“I’m winded right now, speaking,” said Mezzacappa. “Walking around the house, it’s a lot for someone like me. I jump around, I dance a lot. We’re runners. And now, I can’t walk up the steps.”

(Credit: INSTAGRAM/Sabrina Mezzacappa)

Contact tracing determined Leo transmitted the virus to his parents. The two-year-old was pulled out of daycare in March and is being watched by family members during the day.

“Not only are we cautious, but the people watching our son are also really cautious,” said Sanchez. “We don’t gather. We take all the proper precaution. Regardless of that, we still got it.”

Mezzacappa shared her family’s journey on social media this week, where she urged people to take the virus seriously and avoid gathering for the holidays.

“Yes, we’re young and we see a lot of our friends gathering, going out there,” she said. “I know it’s hard to be alone. It’s hard to be isolated.

“We’re social beings, it’s so important. We will be together again. Let’s make that be in a situation where everyone’s healthy and alive.”

(Credit: INSTAGRAM/Sabrina Mezzacappa)