Woman hopes her mother’s death will encourage others to get vaccinated

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 4:13 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A woman dealing with the loss of her mother to COVID-19 is hoping her story will encourage others to get the vaccine.

“I felt her heart stop and one tear fell from her eye. We think it was just a tear of relief, a thank you, for letting her go,” says Katelyn Palmer.

Katelyn Palmer was certain she’d never get the COVID vaccine until the unimaginable happened.

“This virus just eats at you,” says Palmer.

Her mom, Jane, a lifelong resident of Denham Springs, was 52 years old and in good health when she, Katelyn, and other members of their family contracted COVID back in January.

“Our whole house ended up catching it, and she got it way worse than we did,” says Palmer.

Katelyn says her mom kept complaining about not being able to breathe.

“By 6:30 the next morning, we called an ambulance to bring her to the hospital. She just couldn’t breathe,” says Palmer.

Once at Our Lady of the Lake hospital, COVID restrictions prevented family members from visiting her. About a week later, Katelyn says she received a text from her mom that said, “They’re moving me to the ICU. I’m sorry. I just can’t breathe. I will text you later. I love you.”

Just before her mom was put on a vent, the hospital facetimed Katelyn, letting her and Jane’s 4-year-old granddaughter see her.

“She was like, ‘what’s on grans face?’ I had to tell her it was a scuba mask because what do you tell a four-year-old? My mom [made a heart symbol with her hands]. That was the last thing she told my little girl. It’s just terrible,” says Palmer.

Jane spent weeks on and off the ventilator, and then back on again.

Eventually, staff allowed Katelyn to see her mother. Katelyn says she made the very tough decision to sign a “do not resuscitate” order.

“It was the hardest decision I ever had to make, but I had to. I had to get her off that vent. If she wasn’t going to get herself off that vent, I had to be the one to let her go,” says Palmer.

Days later, her mom’s vitals began to decline.

“We said goodbye to her one more time. We held her hand. I put my hand over her heart, and we were right there when she slipped away,” says Palmer.

In the months after her mom died, Katelyn still grappled with the idea of getting the COVID vaccine. She talked to healthcare professionals and continued to think about what her mom would have done.

“If you can maybe prevent that with a vaccine, why wouldn’t you get it? I know that if it was available like it is now, back then, she would have been the first one in line,” says Palmer.

Katelyn received her first dose of the Moderna vaccine last week and now hopes her story will encourage others to do the same.

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