Woman Gives Birth and Dies Days Later of COVID: 'We Can't Imagine Life Without Her,' Family Says

Kristen McMullen was described as a "bright, beautiful, vivacious girl with the world ahead of her"

kristen mcmullen
Photo: Go Fund Me

A Florida woman — who for years dreamed of being a mother — died from COVID-19 just days after she gave birth to her daughter.

Last month, Kristen McMullen started to develop symptoms of COVID-19 about three weeks ahead of her due date and was hospitalized with the virus, her aunt, Melissa Syverson, said in a GoFundMe posting.

Initially sent home from the hospital after four days with antibiotics, McMullen, 30, then returned with breathing problems less than 48 hours later.

Doctors performed an emergency C-section to deliver the woman's daughter, Summer Reign, who McMullen was able to hold for "a few short minutes before she was rushed off to the ICU," Melissa explained.

Days later, McMullen died in the intensive care unit after she was placed on a ventilator when her condition worsened.

kristen mcmullen
Go Fund Me

In an update on the crowdfunding page after McMullen's death, Melissa wrote, "How do you write an update to something that [is] unimaginable? I was hoping I would wake up and the nightmare would be over."

Describing McMullen as a "bright, beautiful, vivacious girl with the world ahead of her," Melissa said she would be leaving behind her "husband and best friend Keith and a beautiful one week old baby girl."

"The loss of Kristen ... is devastating to our family and we can't imagine life without her," she continued. "She lit up the room wherever she was, her laughter was contagious and she will be truly missed every day until we all take our last breath."

"We're so thankful for the time we had with her and thank God for the blessing of her little girl that she left behind," added Melissa.

James Syverson, McMullen's uncle, told NBC News that becoming a mother was one of her goals and she had hopes to "raise a big family." James also explained that her family was shocked when she didn't recover from the illness.

"She never got sick, and we assumed like many people that this would just go away just as quickly as it came," he told the outlet. "Because with a lot of younger people — she was only 30 years old — that she would breeze through it and be back taking charge of life."

Both James and Michelle declined to note whether or not McMullen was vaccinated against COVID-19. The pair, however, urged that other individuals need to be careful around pregnant people despite their vaccine status.

"We personally feel that whether a pregnant woman is or isn't [vaccinated] or whether they wear a mask or don't wear a mask, we feel like they're at a huge risk potentially for it to be deadly for them or their baby," Melissa explained to NBC News.

RELATED VIDEO: Woman Gets Emotional After Finding Out She's Pregnant

Pregnant individuals are at a higher risk of dealing with severe illness from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They are also more likely to have a premature birth or suffer from "other adverse pregnancy outcomes," the CDC adds.

Earlier this week, the CDC urged people who are pregnant or want to become pregnant to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"The vaccines are safe and effective, and it has never been more urgent to increase vaccinations as we face the highly transmissible Delta variant and see severe outcomes from COVID-19 among unvaccinated pregnant people," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a press release.

Of the nearly 105,000 pregnant women in the U.S. who have contracted COVID-19, almost 18,000 have been hospitalized, according to the CDC. One-fourth required intensive care and 124 have died.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

Related Articles