A family in Arizona is mourning the loss of a mother from COVID-19, while at the same time trying to take care of her newborn daughter.
Patricia Denise Jackson, 31, died on Sept. 13 from the virus just days after giving birth.
Michael Jerome, Jackson's boyfriend, told USA TODAY he took Jackson to the hospital on Aug. 28 after she was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. A rapid test came back negative and she was told she had pneumonia, then sent back home with medication.
Her symptoms worsened and on Aug. 31, Jerome took Jackson back to the hospital and it was confirmed she had COVID-19.
"That's when everything stated to fall apart," Jerome said.
Jackson was eight months pregnant and was transferred to a hospital in Phoenix for an emergency C-section.
Kara Leola Jerome was born on Sept. 1 at 4 pounds and 7 ounces and was not getting enough oxygen due to Jackson's illness. Kara was put on breathing and feeding tubes, and Michael was unable to see his daughter for almost a week due to COVID protocols at the hospital.
"It was terrible. What really bothered me is that her mother couldn't even hold her because of COVID," Michael said. "She was in the NICU all by herself."
Theresa Caruthers, Jackson's mother, told USA TODAY she had been in constant communication with her daughter since she was admitted to the hospital and after she gave birth.
"As she continued talking with me, she was scared and she was tired," Caruthers said.
On Sept. 7, Caruthers received a call from the hospital saying her daughter needed to be put in an induced coma in an attempt to save her life.
Jackson had a collapsed lung, low oxygen levels and a tube in her chest, according to Caruthers.
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Caruthers flew to Arizona on Sept. 11 after getting another call and said her daughter was doing well. Things rapidly changed and Jackson died at 1 p.m. two days later.
She was not vaccinated but told Michael and her mother she would after Kara was born.
"I understand you're pregnant and don't know what the vaccine would do to the baby and that's why I didn't fault Patricia's decision," Michael said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant people receive a COVID-19 vaccine and pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness if they contract the virus.
Michael said the plan before Jackson got sick was for him to work and Jackson to stay home with Kara. He is now tasked with raising his daughter alone.
"My daughter doesn't get to know her mother and it breaks my heart," Michael said. "She looks a little bit like her so it's been rough."
The family has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the newborn.
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Pregnant woman dies from COVID days after emergency C-section