Photo courtesy of Theresa Lawson.

Photo courtesy of Theresa Lawson.

Bothell teen battles deadly rare disease that’s a result of COVID-19

While Theresa Lawson has recently been flooded with media attention for her 13-year-old son Anthony’s survival of a rare disease, known right now as pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PMIS), which is being found in children that have had COVID-19, what has really amazed her is support from the community at home— in the Bothell/Woodinville area.

The Canyon Park Middle School PTA organized a car parade for Anthony Lawson’s birthday on Saturday, May 30. A parade of over 100 cars, including vintage hot rods from Woodinville Car Club, first responders and decorated vehicles came out to honk and say “Happy Birthday” in a socially-distanced way.

It wasn’t a day they knew that they would see.

Symptoms looked like allergies at first, she said, in early May: headache, itchy eyes. By day three he was much worse, and by day four they took him to urgent care. They swabbed him for COVID-19 and found him negative, but Theresa Lawson wishes they would have looked for issues beyond that. Because not long after they returned home, he started showing worse symptoms, unable to get out of bed and lethargic. His eyes were completely bloodshot and said he couldn’t see.

“Like something you would see out of a horror movie,” Theresa Lawson said.

They decided they weren’t going to wait, they drove him to Providence Hospital around 1 a.m. Quickly something terrible started happening at the hospital. His organs were failing and he was having cardiac failure.

Just a week before that, he was a healthy, athletic teenager. Theresa Lawson said the doctor told her what was happening could be fatal.

Then they learned Anthony Lawson had the antibodies that showed at one point he had COVID-19, which Theresa Lawson Lawson believes was likely back in January.

Anthony Lawson is a student at Northshore School District, one of the first in the area to cancel in-person classes before Gov. Jay Inslee’s order that impacted the remainder of the school year. Since then the family had been careful, staying at home and practicing self-isolation since their daughter has a recently-diagnosed autoimmune disease.

After about a week of keeping Anthony alive at Seattle Children’s Hospital, Theresa Lawson learned about the rare mystery disease that has impacted young people who had COVID-19. When doctors started giving him the treatment other patients with this disease were getting, he finally started to stabilize.

Even though it seemed like he was getting better, his body continued to fight itself, Theresa Lawson said, but they were lucky to have doctors there around the clock.

The whole thing, ending with Anthony finally being able to return home, happened in about three weeks. Theresa Lawson said what catches them off-guard is that if he had coronavirus months ago, why did the disease hit now? Right now they don’t have answers.

“You’re grateful to have your child home. Two weeks ago I didn’t think we were ever going to see (his birthday),” Theresa Lawson said. “To have gotten to where we are now, where he’s home, we’re so happy. But there’s still a lot of worry.”

Those worries include the very little information there is right now about the long-term impacts of Anthony’s condition.

They had no intentions of speaking out about the illness, but Theresa Lawson said they wanted to be able to give their own experience of how the disease manifested in Anthony’s case, which is different than other reports of fevers and more. Lawson has heard from dozens of concerned families and parents asking for her opinion on their child’s illness. Sometimes she’s up all night responding to messages.

She said it’s important to remember how rare Anthony’s case was, and that while she is not a doctor, people should take their children to the hospital if they feel something is wrong. In this case, early intervention may have been what saved Anthony’s life.

She hasn’t had the downtime or privilege to cry much since Anthony was in the hospital, Theresa Lawson said, except for when she hears on the news about children who had what he did, but didn’t survive.

“There is no support group for this— someone who knows what it’s like to be in this spot,” Theresa Lawson said.

As members of the Bothell community. Theresa Lawson said they never want any other family to go through what they did. They hope sharing Anthony’s story and being the subject of national news can help save others. And they’ve received good thoughts and well wishes from all over the world and especially in Bothell.

Theresa Lawson said one thing she wants those in the community to know is that now is the time to be kind, courteous and patient during this pandemic. For the Lawsons’, Anthony’s illness will never be a political issue. But they have had people tell her son they refuse to wear masks. They ask: does it really hurt to put on a mask?

She said as a realtor, her strength has always been to see both sides of the table. But in the case of those who are concerned that their rights are being taken away because of prevention measures in place for coronavirus, like closed businesses and wearing masks, she wishes she could show them the agony that her son went through. She doesn’t want to invoke fear, but wants people to take this disease seriously.

“People need to get back to just being human,” Theresa Lawson said. “The thing I was most surprised about was the well wishes came from all backgrounds all over the world. We aren’t as different as we think we are.”

Now, Anthony Lawson says he is looking at his situation as a second chance at life. And he has a car-parade of support from the Bothell community.

The family has a GoFundMe to support expenses, available here. As of the writing of this article they had raised $7,645 of their $20,000 goal.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@bothell-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.bothell-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Anthony Lawson, 13, a Bothell teen who survived a deadly sickness a small percentage of children have been getting after having COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Theresa Lawson.

Anthony Lawson, 13, a Bothell teen who survived a deadly sickness a small percentage of children have been getting after having COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Theresa Lawson.

Anthony Lawson, 13, in the hospital while he fought pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PMIS). Photo courtesy of Theresa Lawson.

Anthony Lawson, 13, in the hospital while he fought pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome (PMIS). Photo courtesy of Theresa Lawson.

One of the many cars that celebrated 13-year-old Anthony Lawson on his birthday. Photo courtesy of Theresa Lawson.

One of the many cars that celebrated 13-year-old Anthony Lawson on his birthday. Photo courtesy of Theresa Lawson.

More in News

Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Alvin Sweet is a resident of Martin Court in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood. Martin Court is a former motel which was transformed into a supportive housing complex two decades ago. New funding from King County’s Health through Housing ordinance could expand this type of program across the county.
King County wants to buy motels for emergency, affordable housing

The concept has proven results in addressing homelessness.

Courtesy photo
State demanded more drop boxes, and now it must pay for them

A King County judge says a law requiring more ballot boxes was an illegal unfunded mandate.

King County 2020 unemployment numbers. Source: Washington State Employment Security Department
Boeing, coronavirus likely to impact King County economy

Unemployment remained high in September.

Screenshot from the state Employment Security Department’s website at esd.wa.gov.
State still sifting through thousands of unemployment claims

The recent Lost Wages Assistance program pumped an extra $625 million to Washington’s unemployed.

power grid electricity power lines blackouts PG&E (Shutterstock)
State extends moratorium on some electric, gas shutoffs

Investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in WA can’t disconnect customers through April.

Washington Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee (left) and Republican challenger Loren Culp during Wednesday's debate. (TVW) 20201007
Inslee, Culp joust on COVID, climate, crime in feisty debate

In their only televised match-up, the two gubernatorial candidates differed on pretty much everything.

Gov. Jay Inslee during his Oct. 6 news conference. (Screenshot)
Gov. Inslee loosens rules for bars, libraries and movie theaters

New rules come as coronavirus cases are on the rise statewide.

Jay Inslee (left) and Loren Culp
Inslee, Culp will meet in only televised debate Wednesday

The two candidates will answer questions for an hour but they will not be on stage together.

Cecil Lacy Jr. (Family photo)
Court: New trial in case of man who told police ‘Can’t breathe’

Cecil Lacy Jr. of Tulalip died in 2015 while in police custody.

A Sept. 10 satellite image shows smoke from U.S. wildfires blanketing the majority of the West Coast. (European Space Agency)
University of Washington professors talk climate change, U.S.-China relations

Downside for climate policy supporters is it can risk alienating moderate or right-leaning voters.

Sightseers at a Snoqualmie Falls viewpoint adjacent to the Salish Lodge & Spa on Feb. 19, 2020. Natalie DeFord/staff photo
25 COVID cases linked to Salish Lodge

Public Health is urging anyone who visited the lodge to monitor for symptoms or get tested.

The nose of the 500th 787 Dreamliner at the assembly plant in Everett on Sept. 21, 2016. (Kevin Clark / Herald, file)
Report: Boeing will end 787 Dreamliner production in Everett

Boeing declined comment on a Wall Street Journal story saying the passenger jet’s assembly will move to South Carolina.