Adeline Fagan, a 28-year-old Houston doctor, died on Saturday, September 19, after contracting COVID-19 in early July and spending the past few weeks in an intensive care unit, her family said. Fagan’s family had set up a GoFundMe page in August to raise money for her hospital bills, and her father confirmed her death in an update to the page.
He wrote, “Our beautiful daughter, sister, friend, physician, Adeline Marie Fagan, MD passed away.” He explained that on Friday night, they were informed by the hospital in Houston that Fagan had suffered a “massive brain bleed.” He said:
The nurse came into her room for a routine task and noticed Adeline was not responsive. They immediately rushed her for a CT scan which showed the extent of the damage. The neurosurgeon said it was a ‘1 in a million’ chance she would even survive the procedure, but that Adeline would have several severe cognitive and sensory limitations if she did survive. … We spent the remaining minutes hugging, comforting, and talking to Adeline. And then the world stopped…
Her father, Brant Fagan, also thanked everyone who supported his daughter and donated to the fundraiser, which recently surpassed its goal of $150,000. He said: “We want to sincerely thank all who supported Adeline and us through this difficult time. You were all there cheering and praying and crying. The number of well wishes and caring people humbles us. Even in this darkest of times, there are good people willing to share a piece of themselves for the sake of another.”
Fagan Was Starting Her Second Year of Residency as an OB-GYN & Also Worked in the ER With COVID-19 Patients
Fagan was in Houston starting the second year of her residency as an OB-GYN physician when she contracted COVID-19, her sister Maureen Fagan wrote on the fundraiser page. She said that Fagan was mostly helping to deliver babies but also rotated into the ER, working a 12-hour shift treating COVID-19 patients. By the evening of July 8, her sister wrote, “she began to feel under the weather. What started as intense flu-like symptoms escalated within the week to a hospital stay.”
Maureen Fagan also lived and worked in Houston, as a medical scribe at a doctor’s office, and the two sisters shared an apartment, Syracuse.com reported. Once Adeline Fagan was hospitalized, her parents flew to Texas. “Since we are from Syracuse, NY, our parents have had to travel back and forth to be there for Adeline and continue to support our family. While our Dad’s job can be done virtually, our Mom’s cannot and therefore she cannot work,” according to the GoFundMe page.
Fagan battled the virus for weeks, with doctors trying different respiratory therapies and various drugs, her family said. Since none of these appeared to be working, her sister shared, Fagan agreed to undergo an experimental drug trial. “Before we could see if this new drug was effective, her lungs could no longer support her,” Maureen Fagan wrote. Adeline Fagan was intubated on August 3 and put on a ventilator.
The following day, since she was not responding well to the ventilator, her family said, Fagan was also put on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), a machine that pumps and oxygenates the blood to allow the heart and lungs to heal. In her father’s update after her death, he shared that bleeds can occur in COVID-19 patients who are on ECMO: “The doctor said they have seen this type of event in COVID patients that spend time on ECMO. The vascular system is also compromised by the virus, resulting in bleeds.”
Fagan Was a New York Native Who Wanted to Be a Doctor From a Young Age
According to Syracuse.com, Fagan dreamed of being a doctor from a young age. She was born in Lafayette, New York, south of Syracuse, and attended Bishop Ludden High School, where she was elected class president and also played lacrosse on the varsity team.
Her family said she was a great student, attending St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and then medical school in Buffalo. She also traveled during her years in medical school, going on three medical mission trips to Haiti. Maureen Fagan said, “She was a social butterfly that blossomed by helping others.”
Her sister also told Syracuse.com that Fagan loved being a doctor, especially delivering babies: “She always went to work with a smile on her face, even if she had a 12- or 16-hour day ahead of her.”
On September 20, the CDC’s data tracker indicated that 703 healthcare professionals had died from COVID-19 to date.