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Parents of dead South Korea teen release his lung X-ray

South Korea was one of the first countries outside China to confront a major outbreak of COVID-19. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI
South Korea was one of the first countries outside China to confront a major outbreak of COVID-19. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI | License Photo

March 24 (UPI) -- The parents of a teenager in Daegu, South Korea, who died after testing negative for COVID-19 have released the CT scans and X-rays of their son's lungs.

X-rays of the 17-year-old boy, who died after testing negative multiple times, indicate lesions developed in the back of his lungs under his bronchial tubes, Yonhap reported Tuesday.

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The CT scan was taken on March 13, when the patient's symptoms may have been rapidly deteriorating. The same day, he was placed on life support, using an artificial lung, or oxygenator. The patient's temperature at the time was 104 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the report.

According to South Korean medical specialists, ground glass opacities seen in the chest radiograph were interpreted as the result of inflammation in the lungs, a symptom of COVID-19.

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CT scans of the patient's liver also show rising liver enzymes beyond normal levels, until his death on March 18.

An internal medicine specialist in Daegu told Yonhap the inflammation began in the right lung before both lungs were infected.

"It is likely [the patient] may have not been feeling well before he made his first hospital visit," the source said.

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A South Korean otolaryngologist who declined to be identified said the CT scans show evidence of viral pneumonia occurring in the alveoli. The patient's normal white blood cell count indicates the pneumonia was caused by a virus, and not by bacteria, the source said, according to Yonhap.

The teen who died last week had tested negative for the coronavirus eight times, but tested positive in DNA tests. South Korea had classified his case as "undetermined."

Seoul's decision has come under criticism among doctors, who say an autopsy is necessary to make a final determination.

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The parents of the patient are considering an autopsy as a dispute escalates between the South Korean medical community and the government.

South Korea was one of the first countries outside China to confront a major outbreak of COVID-19 and restricted the export of antiviral gear, including masks, in response.

Newsis reported Tuesday the government will begin to allow a limited number of masks to be sent to South Korean family overseas as the situation appears to be stabilizing in the country.

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