A mother with no underlying health problems died of coronavirus after attending a funeral where 17 mourners suspect they contracted the disease.
Sheila Brooks, 86, from Halesowen, in the West Midlands, died last month and almost all of her extended family attended the service two weeks ago.
But within days, her niece Susan Nelson, 65, who had no underlying health issues, fell ill and died of suspect Covid-19.
Now 16 other family members all suspect they have the virus after contracting it at the funeral – including Susan’s husband, daughter, niece and great-uncle.
Susan Nelson, 65, (photo) who had no underlying health issues, fell ill and died of suspect Covid-19, after attending family funeral
Susan Nelson with her granddaughter Ellie and grandson Edward. 17 family members are now showing symptoms of Covid-19 after going to the funeral in Yardley Wood
Retired sandwich shop owner Susan even died in the same hospital ward as her aunt Shiela.
Susan’s daughter Amanda, 34, is just one of the suspected 17 family members to show symptoms of Covid-19 after going to Yardley Wood’s funeral.
The NHS business support manager, who is currently isolating at home from her father, Robert, also suffers from Addison’s disease.
She has had two life-threatening “adrenal crises” – episodes related to her condition caused by the corona virus.
Amanda from Halesowen said, “It was my great-aunt’s funeral, so much of the rest of the family was there.
“She died in February, but we caught the virus just as many people that I can only think it was from then on.
“We now have someone else in our family in the hospital who is unlikely to survive.
Susan Nelson (center) with her family. Now 16 other family members all suspect they have the virus after contracting it at the funeral – including Susan’s husband, daughter, niece and great-uncle
Susan Nelson and daughter Amanda. Amanda, who is currently isolating at home from her father, Robert, also suffers from Addison’s disease and has also become very ill
“My 21-year-old nephew has it, just the way to a great-uncle who is 88 and has some symptoms.
“It’s a big part of us, none of us seem to have missed it yet. It is a bit strange.
“I’d say about 17 family members have been showing symptoms since going to that funeral. It has touched young and old in our family.
“Our beautiful, caring mother was the center of the family – we are a very close, big family and this has destroyed us.”
Sheila Brooks was 86 when she died on February 9, and the majority of the extended family attended the service on March 13.
Susan got markedly worse the following week, with the family forced to call an ambulance.
She died at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham with her husband Robert, 67, by her side.
Her son Carl, 42, who now lives in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire, said, “She coughed a lot, very breathless, and had all the traditional symptoms.
Susan Nelson (far left) with her family. Her daughter Amanda and father Robert, a retired electrical engineer, are still fighting the assassin beetle, but show ‘improvement’
“She was hospitalized on Monday, March 16, and the next day I spoke with the hospital staff.
“They said the next 48 hours were critical before calling me back a few hours later to say it was almost over and a family member could be with her.
“Since I didn’t have any of the symptoms, I couldn’t go and my sister was too sick with the disease itself.
“People can die alone. Fortunately, my father Robert was able to live with her when she died.
“She started to show severe symptoms on Thursday and if she dies early on Tuesday morning she will show how quickly this can escalate.
“I managed to talk to her on the phone when my father got there and she just wanted me to come down.
“I had my suitcase ready to go downstairs, but the hospital told me I shouldn’t.
Susan Nelson (far left) is depicted with a member of her family. Everyone except Carl (far right) shows symptoms
“I had to tell her they wouldn’t let me in and I wasn’t allowed to see her. I didn’t want her to die because I thought I didn’t want to come.
“We have to beat it and we can’t have other families to go through what we’re going through right now.
“It’s about getting the message out. It’s about seeing the faces of loved ones and thinking that this is real. ‘
The family is unable to arrange a funeral because of government pressure on mass gatherings.
Carl, one of the few members of the family without symptoms, said, “We’ve been told it should be limited to six people, but that could change.
“It’s also practical. All my family is isolated, so I may have to drive down to get the relevant hospital forms to record her death.
Susan Nelson with her cousin Wayne. In recognition of the NHS employees who tried to save their mother, the family set up a Just Giving page with proceeds going to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity
“While I’m doing all that, I won’t be able to see my family, I will just have to drive north again.
“It is not good and it is not right. I don’t blame anyone, I understand the reasons why it should be. ‘
Amanda and father Robert, a retired electrical engineer, are still fighting the killer beetle, but show “improvement.”
She said, “I still can’t quite shake it off. It is very up and down. I feel good in the morning, but by noon you feel like it’s coming back again.
“The cough lingers and other symptoms, but hopefully we can continue to improve. Fortunately, my dad seems to be getting better, but my mom clearly didn’t make it.
“The last person I thought would be needed would be my mother. I was concerned about my father, who has underlying health problems. ‘
The family firmly believes that the wider public must follow the social distance guidelines and that is ‘madness’ not to do this
“The speed at which it works is phenomenal and how mean it is cannot be underestimated,” said her son Carl, “don’t be stupid or risk it.
“Everyone, follow the advice. Stay home, stay safe. Anyone who thinks they are fit and healthy, that it’s like a cold or the flu, don’t risk it. ‘
In recognition of NHS employees attempting to save their mother, the family set up a Just Giving page with proceeds going to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity.
Carl explained, “Under the conditions they work in, it is phenomenal. My father described it as a living hell.
‘What they encounter every day, no one really understands or appreciates what they put into their work.
“If we could all just do something small that goes to them, that would benefit them and just thank them, it would be great. My family is all grateful for the work they have done.
“They couldn’t save Mommy, but they gave their all to make her comfortable in the end.
“Even the follow-up conversations I’ve had, despite how much pressure they have, the doctor took the time to call me back and explain things to me.
“I couldn’t ask for more. The fundraising page has already exceeded our expectations. People’s generosity is enormous, even in these difficult times. ‘
Amanda also repeated this, adding, “The ward where my mother died was the one where my aunt died, and the nursing staff immediately recognized my mother.
“I spoke to one of the nurses in the ward and it felt like her heart was broken. She was really upset.
“I just can’t imagine what they felt, it must have been terrible for them too.
“Mom always saw the best in people and took people under her wing. She became a second mother to my cousin Wayne.
“She was the center of everything. Everything that happened in the family was communicated through my mother.
“She pulled everyone together, loved having a house full and seeing everyone. She laughed and always joked. She is very much missed. ‘