NORFOLK, Va. - Nine-year-old Umiyah Rice Cummings loves horses, drawing and making new friends.
"She is the most purest, sweetest child - very friendly," said her mother, Tiesha Rice.
But on August 15, Umiyah, who lives in Yorktown, stopped eating and had a fever of 103.
"Those symptoms, to me, I thought [were] possibly COVID," said Rice.
Her mom and stepdad recently had the virus, so they rushed Umiyah to urgent care - twice that week - but she tested negative for COVID-19 and strep throat.
"We didn't know what was wrong," she said.
By August 20, Umiyah was rushed to the Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, where doctors found her heart was inflamed. She went into the ICU, where doctors diagnosed her with MIS-C, or multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare but serious complication of COVID-19 that can be deadly.
"At some point, she had COVID and was asymptomatic. It was something we never even heard of - it was mind-blowing," said Rice.
Umiyah's case of MIS-C is one of two in the month of August alone at CHKD; the hospital had a previous spike in February. Forty other children were hospitalized with COVID-19 or MIS-C from August to September 15.
"This was most devastating, scariest thing I ever experienced in my life - and for her, too," said Rice.
Umiyah spent 10 days in the hospital. Her mother hopes her story prompts parents to always be vigilant when their child isn't feeling well.
"I want parents to be aware of MIS-C - it's not known at all,"said Rice. "Your child's life depends on whether if you act now or not."