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Crete teen, sidelined by post-COVID syndrome, urging peers to get COVID-19 vaccine

Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:32 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Marli Stones got her second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine Friday. She wishes she could have gotten it last fall.

“Because then I wouldn’t have had to have COVID,” the 16-year-old Crete High athlete said. “I wouldn’t have had to deal with tachycardia, I wouldn’t be out of sports because I couldn’t breathe at 16-years old.”

Marli had a mild case of the virus last November. She said she lost her sense of taste and smell but didn’t think anything of it. Until she stepped on the basketball court in January.

“I could not breathe,” Marli said. “I’d go up and down the court once and need to take a break, my heart was racing.”

She was sidelined. Her dad, Martin Stones, told 10/11 NOW that instead of going to games, they were now going to doctors offices.

Marli said she got an inhaler from her primary care doctor and when that didn’t help was forwarded to a Bryan Health cardiologist, Dr. Mathue Baker.

Dr. Baker diagnosed her with post-COVID syndrome. Marli was now what’s become known as COVID-19 long hauler.

“I didn’t realize it’d have such an impact on me,” Marli said. “When the doctor told me there could be scarring on my heart and I could never play again that was really scary.”

Luckily, that’s not the case for Marli. An MRI showed there isn’t permanent damage to her heart, though right now she’s on beta-blockers.

Marli said after she recovers from an unrelated ACL injury, she’ll be able to play again.

“When I finally get back out there that will be an accomplishment,” Marli said. “It’ll be like winning a state championship.”

But Marli said it’s important teens know they don’t have to go through what she has if they get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean COVID won’t affect you,” Marli said. “I thought I was young and health and it wouldn’t have an impact on me.”

She tells teens not to have the same mindset and to get the vaccine.

Her mom, Linda agrees, telling 10/11 NOW no 16-year-old should be relying on beta-blockers to breathe.

“The vaccine may not be perfect but it really could prevent your family from going through something life-altering,” Linda said.

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