PHOENIX — A 20-year old Phoenix man has died after contracting COVID-19. Adrian Garcia Hernandez passed away after a 20-day battle with the virus, last week.
His parents Jessica and Alejandro Hernandez tell ABC15 they are devastated by the loss, and the tragedy has completely changed their outlook on COVID-19.
"We didn't believe it 100%. We didn't think it was real. I kept telling people, ‘I don't know anybody that is impacted, personally. The numbers must be inflated.’ I still do believe there is some inflation, but you don't realize the impact until it hits your home, until it hits your bubble, until it hits your person," said Jessica Hernandez, Adrian's mother.
She tells ABC15 their whole family got afflicted with COVID-19 before Adrian's death. Her other children suffered from fevers and body aches. For Jessica, it was the intense pain she will never forget.
"It is not like a regular pain. It is pain that gets to your bones. Your calves, when you roll over at night. It is an unexplainable pain," said Hernandez.
While everyone else in the family recovered, Adrian did not. At one point, they thought he was getting better, but then overnight everything changed.
"His decline again was a fever and body aches and chills followed by a severe cough. He could not stop coughing and he just said to me, ‘mom, I am not feeling well. I need to go to the hospital,’" said Jessica.
Seven days after his first sniffle, Adrian went to a Dignity Health hospital in Phoenix and was admitted. However, a day later, his family says he was transported to another hospital in Gilbert.
"They said it was due to capacity and also that he needed more oxygen," said Jessica.
That was the last time Adrian's family saw him in person. He never got out of the hospital and was put on a ventilator right away.
"He wasn't able to talk. He was on a ventilator, he was sedated, because of the ventilator they had to give him paralytics to make him relax and not fight it," said Jessica.
Twenty days after his first symptoms, Adrian Hernandez died.
"He never opened his eyes again. He never talked to us again," said Jessica.
The family said their goodbyes to Adrian over the phone, unsure if he could even hear their words.
"The nurse held the phone up to his ear and we talked to him – told him to stay strong – but I don't know if he could hear us," said Jessica.
When asked if Adrian had suffered from any underlying conditions, his mother said they found out after he was hospitalized that their son had Diabetes. It had been undiagnosed until he found himself on a ventilator with his kidneys failing.
With a younger population now being the largest percentage of COVID-19 positive cases in the country, Jessica had a message for the community.
"For the average person with no underlying health conditions you will be okay. We are okay, but my son is not. So, imagine your family. Which one would you choose to not be okay?"
The family encourages people to be cautious, to wear masks and to take COVID-19 seriously.
Adrian leaves behind a fiancée and 3-month old daughter, who was the pride and joy of his life. Friends have set up a Go Fund Me Account to help with expenses.
If you would like to help, please visit their GoFundMe page.