Maria Lydia Hernandez gave birth to twins before waking up from a coma two decades ago

By Jason Duaine Hahn
February 01, 2021 04:41 PM
Maria Lydia Hernandez
| Credit: GoFundMe

A California woman who made headlines more than two decades ago when she gave birth to twins while in a coma has died from COVID-19 complications.

Maria Lydia Hernandez Lopez — a mother of five — died of coronavirus on Jan. 20 after an "intense fight," her family said on a GoFundMe set up in her name. She celebrated her 47th birthday in November and was diagnosed with the airborne disease earlier this month.

The family said Lopez struggled with health problems for years and made frequent trips to the hospital. One of these hospitalizations occurred in 1999, when she experienced a brain hemorrhage while pregnant.

According to KABC, doctors at the time didn't believe she would recover — but, miraculously, her two daughters were successfully delivered before she woke up. The family said on GoFundMe that she had been unconscious for 47 days.

Footage provided by the news station showed Lopez holding the twin girls while in a hospital bed shortly after she emerged from her coma.

"To this day, there's no medical explanation on how she survived or the twins," Sylvia Hernandez, Lopez's sister, told the news station.

The family is hoping to raise money to pay hospital fees and memorial costs. They have since raised just over $4,600.

"We were blessed and lucky enough to have her for an additional 22 years," the family said on GoFundMe. "In times like these, it is especially hard for our family to cope with not being able to have touched her and physically being there for her during her final hospital stay."

"She deserved to go with family by her side comforting her and supporting whatever was meant to happen," they wrote. "We want to send her off with immense love and light onto her next journey."

KABC said the family hopes others take coronavirus seriously and abide by social distancing guidelines, such as wearing masks and remaining six feet from others.

As of Monday afternoon, there have been more than 26.2 million COVID-19 cases in the U.S., according to a New York Times database. There have also been 442,030 coronavirus-related deaths in the country, with numbers rising every day.

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"When I'd seen her in the hospital, I knew she was suffering and that was breaking my heart," Lopez's daughter, Adahli, told KABC.

Added Sylvia: "Her absence is definitely being felt. ... But I know she's in a better place and I know we'll see her again."

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 CDCWHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a 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.