The text messages Madhvi Aya sent her daughter during the last days of her life, isolated inside a New York hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19 last month, show a heartbreaking picture of the experience patients with the coronavirus face. The 61-year-old Aya worked at Woodhull Medical Center in Brooklyn for 12 years before she became a patient herself. She was isolated at a hospital in Long Island to be close to her family, but her 18-year-old daughter Minnoli and husband Raj could not visit her.
In a text to family, shared with The New York Times, Aya described feeling a horrible chest pain when she tried to get out of bed. "I have not improved the way should have been," she texted Raj on March 23. Two days later, Minnoli texted, "I miss you mommy" and hoped to hug her mother soon. "Please don't give up hope because I haven't given up. I need my mommy. I need you to come back to me," she added.
"Love you," Aya replied on March 26. "Mom be back," Minnoli quickly wrote back. Sadly, Aya, Minnoli and Raj never hugged again. She died by herself, which made it even more painful. "She was always there for us, whenever we wanted," Raj said. But when she got sick, "No one was next to her."
Minnoli, a freshman at the State University of New York at Buffalo, told Reuters she kept texting her mother, even after Aya's death. "I kept texting her wanting to believe it wasn't true," she said. "She deserved to live and see me graduate, and become a doctor, and get married and have kids." Minnoli said her family lost the "supermom" who kept them together. They also lost health insurance and income without her.
A friend launched a GoFundMe account to help Aya's family, with more than $46,000 already saved. Many of Aya's coworkers donated to the fund. "Madhvi was more than just a colleague to me. She was a great friend and mentor," one wrote. Another added, "I will always remember you."
"Madhvi was loved and respected by her colleagues as well as her patients," the GoFundMe page reads. "She was kind, thoughtful, and always willing to listen and give advice as the "mom" of the ER. She was especially protective over the younger PAs fresh out of school, taking them under her wing. This is truly a devastating loss and she will be sorely missed."
Aya's story is one of many for families with members in the health care industry during the coronavirus pandemic. She is also not the only Woodhull employee to die from the virus. Thomas Soto, a clerk in the radiology department, died 12 days after his first symptoms. The 59-year-old was close to retirement after working there for decades. "The only reason my dad pushed to work that extra year was to retire with full pension, and I lost him because of that," Soto's son Jonathan told the Times.
There are more than 2.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, reports Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. now has 654,301 cases as of Thursday afternoon. Over 31,600 deaths have been reported in the U.S., including over 11,000 in New York City alone.