Daughter loses mother to COVID-19 as she fights for her own life in the ICU

Medical Watch

A mother and daughter were both hospitalized with COVID-19. Neither knew the other was there. Both were intubated and struggled to survive. Only one left the hospital.

It was Easter Sunday when Shinikia Gavin felt her chest tightening. Her sister brought her to Northwestern Memorial Hospital where the 36-year-old tested positive for COVID-19. The next day, her oxygen levels dropped, and she was placed on a ventilator.

Two weeks later, Gavin woke up in the COVID ICU asking for her mother.

“We did everything together. She was an awesome grandmother to my children,” Shinikia Gavin said. “She was phenomenal and she and I, you could say, we were inseparable.”

What Shinikia Gavin didn’t know was that her mom, Gwendolyn Gavin, had also become ill with COVID-19 and was in another ICU unit at Northwestern struggling to survive.

That’s when hospitalist Dr. David Goese helped the two share a few final moments via iPad.

“It’s not the same as being in person with someone who is at the end of life, but Shinikia was able to see her mom and tell her mom all her thoughts and feelings,” he said. “So at least that was something.”

“I saw her and I sang a song to her and I just prayed for her and I told her, ‘This is your show. Whatever you want to do I’m right behind you and with you,’” Shinikia Gavin said. “And sung her favorite song. And she made her transition 10 minutes later. I just know in my heart she heard me. She heard everything I was saying.”

All alone, Shinikia Gavin broke down.

“I was alone,” she said. “I didn’t have anyone. No family. No one to hold you, touch you. No one to hug you. You need all of that at a time like that.”

“There was this critical moment where I knew for her recovery she needed to refocus because she was in such a horrible emotional state,” Goese said.

“He told me, ‘You just have to fight. Just take it all and take everything you have and use it towards your recovery and use it as a positive. It’s not going to be easy it’s going to be very hard,’” she said.  “At that moment those words were like million dollar words for me because I didn’t have nobody. I didn’t have nothing.”

Four days later, Shinikia Gavin was strong enough to leave the hospital and watch her welcome home parade.

“She made progress over a week that others would take months,” Goese said.

“My message is don’t give up. Keep going. All the fight in you, just keep fighting don’t stop,” Shinikia Gavin said. “If you were on the ventilator and you made it off, you’re so blessed. You’re meant to be here.”

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