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

Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 9:25 PM EDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE/Gray News) - 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,” Katelyn Palmer said.

WVUE reported that Palmer was certain she’d never get the COVID-19 vaccine until the unimaginable happened.

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

Her mom, Jane, a lifelong resident of Denham Springs, Louisiana, was 52 years old and in good health when she, Palmer, and other members of their family contracted COVID-19 in January.

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

Palmer said 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,” Palmer said.

Once at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital, COVID-19 restrictions prevented family members from visiting her.

About a week later, Palmer said 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 Palmer, letting her 4-year-old granddaughter see Jane.

“She was like, ‘What’s on Grans face?’ I had to tell her it was a scuba mask, because what do you tell a 4-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,” Palmer said.

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

Eventually, staff allowed Palmer to see her mother.

Palmer said 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,” Palmer said.

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,” Palmer said.

In the months after her mom died, Palmer still grappled with the idea of getting the COVID-19 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,” Palmer said.

Palmer 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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