TROUTMAN, N.C. (WBTV) - In Troutman, a family is saying a difficult goodbye to a wife, mother, and grandmother, because of COVID-19.
The family of Astrid Donahue says she died just days ago from the virus. They say she worked for Iredell Statesville Schools in administration, and was just 53 years old.
"Looking at her with the Bipap on, I could tell she was frightened," Jerry Donahue says.
The last time Donahue had a conversation with his wife was three weeks ago. She was hooked up to a machine to help her breathe.
“I tried to tell her everything’s going to be OK, and we had to end the FaceTime,” he says.
He says he realized his wife’s illness was going to be very serious when she had to be intubated on July 1.
"She was on a Bipap and it wasn't working," he says. "It was really eating her lungs up."
Astrid Donahue died on July 16.
“She was just... she loved life,” her husband said through tears. “She loved everybody. She was fun.”
He says he and his wife never thought this would happen to them.
"We're just average people," he says. "It hit our family hard."
What started as flu-like symptoms at home, Donahue says, turned serious, quickly. In the hospitals in Statesville, then Chapel Hill, he only saw his wife a few times, mostly from afar.
He wants people to know the severity of COVID-19.
“I went into the crematory, and they had a special place, a container, it says, ‘COVID19 patients,’” he says. “Think about that.”
Now, the Donahue family will drive down the coast to say goodbye.
“I’m actually going to put her on my motorcycle and ride her on her last ride down to the Isle of Palms,” Donahue says. “She was just a free spirit, a good mother, a good grandmother.”
Donahue says Astrid had one chronic condition, called chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), but doctors do not know if that had anything to do with the severity of her COVID-19.
Astrid was the Benefits Specialist for the Human Resources Department, where school officials say she was a valuable asset to the department where she had served since October 2014.
School officials say she was a passionate individual and hard worker that helped many employees. She was often one of the first people to welcome new employees into the district as they began their careers.
Officials say she also had the unique opportunity to celebrate with employees as they finalized their paperwork for retirement.
“Astrid was not only a coworker, but she was a friend. No matter how heavy our workloads got we always had each other’s back. Whenever my workload got to be too much and I would start to get a little stressed she would often say don’t worry about it, I got it and I would do the same for her. Often, we would run into each other in the kitchen first thing in the morning where I would find her making coffee for the office. Not just 1 pot, but 3. She had to make sure everyone was taken care of (Strong, Decaf, and Regular). We will miss Astrid dearly, but she will be forever in our hearts,” said Jamie Davidson, Professional Learning Data Manager in the Human Resources Department.