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Michigan infant with COVID died from serious birth defect

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

The immediate cause of death for a 2-month-old the state's top medical doctor said died because of COVID-19 was a birth defect called gastroschisis, a condition in which a baby is born with intestines located outside the body, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner. 

Necrotizing enterocolitis and COVID-19 also were listed as other conditions on the baby's death certificate, according to a medical examiner report obtained by The Detroit News.

The baby was announced, but not named by the state, as Michigan's youngest victim of COVID-19 Wednesday, but no details were given as to the infant's gender, hometown or any underlying conditions.

"I was so saddened to hear this week of a 2-month-old baby in Michigan who died because of COVID-19," Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Khaldun announced at the press conference. 

The infant, who was from the Upper Peninsula, died Sunday at Children's Wisconsin in Milwaukee, according to his death certificate. 

While gastroschisis is listed as the immediate cause of death, an accompanying investigation report from the medical examiner's office noted that he "died from COVID-19." He had tested positive for the virus on Sept. 8. 

"He had GI symptoms of the disease, which exacerbated his tenuous congenital defects," the report said. 

The state has declined further comment on the case, but officials noted the health department considers deaths to be COVID-19-associated if the individual died within 30 days of onset. 

"MDHHS relies on the judgment of treating physicians in determining whether a death is associated with COVID-19," said Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for the department, on Friday.

The baby's mother, Brooke Granquist, declined to comment when reached by The News on Friday. But in a Facebook post that has since been removed, Granquist expressed her anger over the state attributing her child's death to COVID-19. 

“I am angry. I am so ANGRY. If you heard the state of Michigan report on COVID this morning, you may have heard a 2 month old baby died of COVID. I need everyone to know that (my child) did NOT die of COVID," she wrote.

"According to the autopsy (which has been told to me via phone but not yet by mail), (my child) suffered a bowel perforation and an infection because of it... this is directly related to his gastroschisis. I am so angry. I am angry at the government for skewing numbers and making my baby a statistic to try and benefit their agenda while my family is suffering."

According to the baby's obituary and a GoFundMe page, he had surgery after birth to address the gastroschisis but wasn't able to return home from C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor until he was nearly 2 months old. 

On Sept. 7, after being home for a little more than a week, the baby began vomiting and having diarrhea, according to the page. He was taken to Children's Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and told he had a "GI bug," but doctors later suspected he'd suffered from a bowel perforation, according to the website.

Doctors believed the baby was doing better until he took a downturn Sunday afternoon and stopped breathing, the page says.

He is described in his obituary as "bringing joy and happiness to his family and every doctor, nurse, and person who met him. He was known for his great hair, bright eyes, and humorous facial expressions."

eleblanc@detroitnews.com