PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) — COVID-19 has claimed the life of a young doctor with ties to the Philadelphia area. Devastated and heartbroken, the family of Dr. Adeline Fagan says after two months of fighting and hospitalization with COVID-19, the St. Joe’s University alumna died Saturday after a massive brain bleed. She was 28.
“There are no words that can encompass who Adeline was and the spirit that she had. I mean, she just had a way of making anyone feel special,” Adeline’s sister, Maureen Fagan, said.
The OB/GYN who practiced in a Houston Hospital had a sudden onset of flu symptoms in early July and never recovered. She was placed on a ventilator and other life-sustaining machines.
Saint Joseph’s University remembered the 2014 graduate in a post, saying she lived her life as a Hawk and lived it for others.
“It is with great sadness that we have learned of alumna Adeline Fagan’s passing,” Saint Joseph’s University Alumni Association posted on Facebook. “Adeline, a 2014 Saint Joseph’s graduate and OB/GYN resident-physician, lived her life as a Hawk with and for others.”
Dr. Fagan’s death comes as the United States passes a grim milestone in the COVID-19 battle with 200,000 dead.
Her sisters had this message.
“Most people don’t know Adeline but I would bet they know an Adeline. There is someone in your life that makes you feel like Adeline makes us feel. And if you could do anything, which we see it as a simple thing of wearing a mask, social distancing — if you think it’s a hoax, Adeline passed away because of COVID. This isn’t a hoax,” sister Natalie Fagan said.
Fagan had just started her second year of residency in Houston when she got sick, a GoFundMe page established on her behalf said.
While she mostly worked delivering babies, Fagan was doing a rotation in the ER treating COVID-19 patients, the post said. Despite a history of asthma, upper respiratory infections and pneumonia, her sisters shared with CNN affiliate KHOU, going into work was “what (Adeline) wants to be doing.”
“She wants to get out of bed every morning and deliver babies and help women,” Maureen Fagan told KHOU.
Fagan arrived on the morning of July 8 feeling good and “excited to see patients,” but by the evening of her 12-hour shift, she began to feel “under the weather,” the initial post on her GoFundMe page said.
Her symptoms were mostly intense flu-like that escalated within the week to a hospital stay. She spent weeks in the hospital battling COVID-19, was given several different respiratory therapies and put on dozens of drugs, none of which she positively responded to.
On August 3, before entering an experimental drug trial, Adeline had to be intubated and placed on a ventilator since her lungs could no longer support her, the GoFundMe post said. On August 4, she was placed on ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, to oxygenate her blood while the ventilator opened her lungs through positive pressure. Fagan’s family projected on the GoFundMe page that she would be on the ventilator and ECMO for at least six to eight weeks in hopes that her lungs would heal themselves.
“The time the world stopped for a moment and will never be the same. Our beautiful daughter, sister, friend, physician, Adeline Marie Fagan, MD passed away,” the post, written by Fagan’s father, Brant, stated Saturday morning.
Adeline Fagan’s sister, Natalie Fagan, told KHOU that “from the beginning of time her sister wanted to be a doctor.”
“She fought for it,” Natalie Fagan said. “She fought hard. She studied hard. She studied really hard and she got there.”
The GoFundMe post went on to thank everyone who had supported Adeline Fagan. Since it was created on August 10, the GoFundMe page raised more than $160,000 by more than 3,000 donors.
“Even in this darkest of times, there are good people willing to share a piece of themselves for the sake of another,” Fagan’s father wrote.
He also encouraged mourners to “be an ‘Adeline’ in the world. Be passionate about helping others less fortunate, have a smile on your face, a laugh in your heart, and a Disney tune on your lips.”
Adeline Fagan had been doing well in the final days of her life, and the family had been given a good report on Friday night, the post read. Fagan’s parents, who reside in New York but had traveled to Houston to be with their daughter, received a phone call Friday night after one of Adeline’s nurses had found her unresponsive.
A CT scan revealed massive amounts of damage caused by a brain bleed, and her medical team was looking for permission to perform a procedure to relieve the pressure.
“The neurosurgeon said it was a ‘1 in a million’ chance she would even survive the procedure, but that Adeline would have several severe cognitive and sensory limitations if she did survive,” the statement read.
CBS3’s Joe Holden contributed to this report.
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