An 8-year-old-girl from Minnesota has developed a “rare” autoimmune disease that has left her paralyzed after she contracted COVID-19 in March.

The girl, Avella Bauer, was found unresponsive by her mother, Lani Bauer, after having a low fever days earlier and was rushed to the Masonic Children's Hospital in March, KMSP, a Fox affiliate out of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, reported.

At that time, Bauer was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) – a rare autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack its own cells and tissues, causing the brain and spinal cord to swell – that paralyzed her, NBC News said.

The ADEM diagnosis was linked to COVID infection as the disease is triggered by a viral infection, and the only virus that Bauer tested positive for at the time was the coronavirus, according to KMSP.

“We have every reason to believe that COVID was the triggering virus here,” Dr. Michael Pitt, Bauer’s pediatrician, told the outlet. “We’re seeing cases all over the world of ADEM where the only virus they find is COVID.”

Because of the swelling in her brain, part of Bauer’s skull was removed, and she needs a feeding tube to eat as she remains paralyzed in her hospital bed, NBC News reports. She was also unable to see because of the brain damage caused by ADEM. Her doctors believe she still has some type of vision but it is unclear to what extent, the news outlet said.

Bauer’s case of ADEM is considered quite rare as it is known as acute hemorrhagic encephalomyelitis (AHEM), where the damage is so severe, she may not recover. Dr. Pitt told NBC News, “We’re seeing an extreme that is very, very rare, but it’s certainly something we would want to prevent.”

Most children recover from ADEM in four to six months. ADEM was being linked to COVID back in June 2020. Dozens of cases have been reported of ADEM connected to COVID infections.

Bauer hopes her daughter’s story pushes more people to wear masks and get vaccinated.

She told NBC News, “If getting the shot and wearing your mask is one step closer to preventing this [happening] to another child, that’s what I want to stress. I want to stress to make sure you wear your mask.”

China has been testing residents of Wuhan for Covid-19 after a new outbreak in the city where the virus first emerged China has been testing residents of Wuhan for Covid-19 after a new outbreak in the city where the virus first emerged Photo: AFP / STR