Nameer and Nada Ayram came to America from Iraq eight years ago in search of a better life

By Rachel DeSantis
May 15, 2020 02:30 PM
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Nameer and Nada Ayram 3 Michigan children orphaned after both parents die from coronavirus within weeks
Nada and Nameer Ayram
| Credit: GoFundMe

A Michigan couple who came with their family to the United States from Iraq eight years ago seeking a better life have both died of coronavirus, leaving their 20-year-old son care for his two teenage sisters.

Nameer Ayram, 52, died on Monday of complications from COVID-19, just three weeks after his wife Nada died on April 21, according to their obituaries.

The couple’s deaths mean their son Nashwan has been left to shoulder the burden of paying bills and taking care of his 18- and-13-year-old sisters Nadeen and Nanssy without an income or any family nearby to help, according to a GoFundMe page organized to help the family.

“This family came as refugees eight years ago with an American dream, only to get caught up in this deadly virus,” the GoFundMe page says. “They need help to keep things afloat before these three kids are left with no home, no money and to suffer.”

Nameer first fell ill on March 22, and was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit while also receiving dialysis following kidney failure at University of Michigan hospital in Ann Arbor, the Detroit Free Press reported.

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Nada, meanwhile, was hospitalized at Ascension Macomb-Oakland Hospital, Warren Campus, and according to the GoFundMe, suffered kidney failure, pneumonia and internal bleeding, which she battled while on a ventilator.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, their children were unable to visit them in the hospital, according to the GoFundMe. Nashwan and one of his sisters also tested positive for the virus, though they recovered “alone at home,” the page said.

Nameer worked at an auto supply company, while Nada was a homemaker — but now, their three children are left struggling to pay the bills.

A local organization called Chaldean American Ladies of Charity has been helping keep the family stable by bringing groceries and basic necessities, Board Chairwoman Renee Yaldo told The Detroit News.

“They’re not doing well,” Yaldo said. “Nash is devastated and the girls are not taking it well. I mean, they lost both of their parents within weeks of each other. They had no idea the day their parents left would be the last time they would see them.”

The GoFundMe has so far raised more than $153,000.

“We are so thankful for a big loving community that came together in this time of family crisis to show support in any way!” the page says.

It's unclear if either Nameer or Nada — for whom a family friend did not immediately return PEOPLE's request for comment — suffered from any pre-existing medical conditions prior to contracting the virus. People ages 65 and older are at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, as are people with underlying medical conditions, including heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, liver disease and chronic kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All but 6 percent of patients who needed hospitalization had one pre-existing condition, and the majority — 88 percent — had two or more, according to a large study of thousands of patients in New York City that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

As of Friday afternoon, there have been at least 49,489 cases and 4,787 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Michigan, according to The New York Times. The U.S., meanwhile, has seen at least 1.4 million cases and 86,062 deaths.

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 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.