OMAHA, Neb. (KETV) -- As Amy Crosby drove from South Dakota to Children's Hospital Omaha, she wondered if she'd be driving back without her 1-year-old son, Crue.

"They just said, ‘you know, he's very ill, Amy, we will do the best we can to make him come home with you,’" Crosby said.

Crue, who has Down syndrome, tested positive for COVID-19 in December. His parents were shocked when they heard the news, because they had taken extreme precautions since their son’s birth.

"I just fell and I just sobbed," said Crosby, a nurse, who was in Omaha while her husband, a teacher, is back home. "I just didn't know what our future was going to hold."

She quickly learned it would be a future filled with tubes, wires, and lots of questions.

"What's best, what's not best? Are we doing everything that we can? Did we do everything that we can? How did we catch it?” Crosby said. Crue's parents are vaccinated.

Dr. Sharon Stoolman, a pediatrician at Children's, said it's impossible to live in a bubble — especially with community transmission as high as it is currently.

"We are seeing a burden of the illness disproportionately on those younger kids," Stoolman said.

That's because kids under 5 — like Crue — can't get vaccinated yet.

"Some children with special needs have a low immune response to infections in the first place," Stoolman said.

For those kids, wearing a mask can be challenging, too, as it restricts their breathing. If the adults around them are not taking precautions, the kids are extra susceptible to the virus.

"We have children who are getting mild symptoms ... and we have children, even this week on heart lung bypass, to care for their COVID," Stoolman said.

Crue's history of open-heart surgery and a rare immune disease made contracting COVID-19 so much scarier.

"We got a nasty taste of it and it was awful,” Crosby said. “I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy."

Crue needed highly specialized care, which is why they came all the way to Omaha.

But for a little while, they weren't sure if the journey had been worthwhile.

"They had a bed but they didn't have a nurse," Crosby said.

A nurse stepped up to take an extra shift. But in the month Crue was intubated, ICU beds for children have become harder and harder to come by.

"Every day, it's an interesting discussion on how do we make sure that we can care for all the kids that are sick in the community," Stoolman said.

Last year, Stoolman said Children's had one or two kids a week with COVID-19. In mid-January of this year, there were 18 kids in their hospital with the virus.

"I think we're in the eye of the storm," Stoolman said.

For Crue's loyal crew, that storm is finally subsiding. He was taken off the ventilator this week, after a very long month.

"What exactly happened was my nightmare, my worst dream that I thought could ever happen," Crosby said.

There's a long road to recovery ahead.

"Any time that you're in the bed for one day, it's about seven days to recover that strength," Stoolman said.

But Crosby is just grateful to travel that road with Crue in the back seat.

"I just want to grab him and snuggle him and kiss him and just tell him how proud I am of him which I tell him all the time," Crosby said.

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