A New York firefighter and his wife are in mourning after their nearly 5-month-old baby girl died of complications of the coronavirus.
The New York Post reported Jerel La Santa, 30, had just finished his first shift as a firefighter in late March when he had to rush to meet his family in the emergency room. His daughter, Jay-Natalie La Santa, had a fever.
She was born with a heart condition, so she was immediately admitted to the hospital March 21.
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"When I got to my car, there was a note from my mother — ya know I couldn't have my phone on because I'm the new guy — to go to the ER, she's there," La Santa told The Post Thursday. "That's one way to start my career."
Lindsey La Santa, Jay-Natalie’s mother, said her daughter was diagnosed with bronchitis and kept overnight. She was tested for COVID-19 twice before it was realized she contracted the virus.
The Post reported doctors are not sure if she contracted the illness from being in a hospital environment or if she had the illness all along.
"We have no clue how she got it," Wanda La Santa, the baby's grandmother, told NBC's "Today" via phone.
“She was so weak and lethargic,” Lindsey La Santa said. “From April to her last breath, she was just in a paralytic state.”
Jay-Natalie’s parents visited her one at a time in 12-hour shifts because only one was allowed at a time.
Although her numbers stabilized, things soon took a turn. On April 20, the baby’s vitals crashed, The Post reported.
»COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS
“We were hopeful … her numbers were beautiful, her oxygen levels were good,” Lindsey La Santa said. “Then 10 minutes later he called me to come... ‘she doesn’t have a pulse.’”
Jay-Natalie died a week before she would have turned 5 months old, The Post reported.
The Post reported the infant's father dressed her in a the rose-gold dress with glittered roses that he got for her to wear at his FDNY graduation ceremony, which was scheduled for March 27 but delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“She went out looking like a princess,” Jerel La Santa told The Post. “She had such a beautiful white little casket because we didn’t want her in a body bag.”
The parents held an informal ceremony this week at a funeral parlor owned by Jay-Natalie’s godmother.
"Called 'Warrior princess' a title given to her by her Father Jerel, for her fighting spirit against the horrible covid-19 Virus," the FDNY Hispanic Society to which Jerel La Santa belongs said in a statement. "Rest in peace little one, God bless you. Please keep the La Santa family close in prayer and for peace during this difficult of times."
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Hello all, One of the worst experiences as a parent is to go through the loss of a child. It is with extreme sorrow to announce the passing of Jay-Natalie La Santa (5 months) daughter of our newest member to the Department and to the FDNY Hispanic Society family, Jerel and Lindsey La Santa. Called "Warrior princess" a title given to her by her Father Jerel, for her fighting spirit against the horrible covid-19 Virus. Rest in peace little one, God bless you. Please keep the La Santa family close in prayer and for peace during this difficult of times. Below, a GoFundMe has been set up by the family to help with Jay-Natalie medical expenses. Jose A Prosper President FDNY Hispanic Society Share or donate to this GoFundMe, https://gf.me/u/xyggpn
A GoFundMe was set up for the family. It raised more than $40,000 before being closed.
“Jay-Natalie La Santa was the BOSS!!!” the description on the fundraiser reads. “She had mommy and daddy wrapped around her little finger and knew it.”
A closed-casket funeral is scheduled for May 2.
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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com