Florida Man Dies of COVID 20 Minutes Before Becoming a Grandfather: 'I Broke Down,' Says Daughter

·2 min read
shane O'neal
shane O'neal

Knauf Funeral Homes Shane O'Neal

A Florida man set to become a grandfather died from COVID-19 just 20 minutes before his first grandchild was born.

Shane O'Neal, 40, had been "super excited" about the arrival of his grandson, his daughter, Kylie Dean, told USA Today.

"Every time he'd go to the store, he'd pick up some baby clothes or baby toys," she said.

But in early August, the same week he had planned to get vaccinated, O'Neal tested positive for COVID-19. He had no preexisting conditions, but after a week with the virus he was hospitalized and intubated.

"He has made sure to mention to every single nurse that took care of him before his intubation, and he said, 'My daughter's 37 weeks pregnant. My daughter's 38 weeks pregnant. I'm gonna have my first grandbaby.' He wanted everybody to know," Dean told First Coast News.

RELATED: Unvaccinated Mom, 32, Dies of COVID Days After Giving Birth: 'She Wished She Had Gotten the Vaccine'

Doctors advised putting O'Neal on an ECMO machine, a device that takes over the functions of the heart and lungs, but Dean and the hospital were unable to find an available ECMO machine anywhere in the country, due to the high number of hospitalized COVID patients.

RELATED VIDEO: FDA Grants Full Approval to Pfizer's COVID Vaccine

And early in the morning on Sept. 3, at approximately 3:30 a.m., O'Neal died from COVID-19. A half hour before then, his doctor had called Dean, who was in labor, to tell her that her father would soon die.

"He was like 'I'm really sorry to tell you this right now, but your father just, despite all efforts, he's basically not going to make it," she told USA Today.

"I broke down and was literally sobbing. And my family and friends are standing at my window, watching me just literally break," she said. "That's probably the best way to describe it. I felt broken."

RELATED: Bride-to-Be, 29, Who Was Fearful of Getting Vaccinated Dies of COVID: 'Misinformation Killed Her'

Soon after, at 3:49 a.m., Dean gave birth to her son Preston.

Dean said she'll always remember her father as "supper funny" and "a great dad" who "did anything and everything for me and my brother."

And Dean said that she sees O'Neal in her son.

"My dad would do the 'I love you' sign in sign language. And I've looked at Preston's hands, just at random times, and he has that sign on his hands, like the 'I love you sign,'" she said. "I don't know if it's coincidence, but it always brings me back to my dad when I see it."

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting