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‘COVID is very real’: Family mourns loss of their 43-year-old mom

Click to play video: '43-year-old Edmonton mom of two dies after contracting COVID-19' 43-year-old Edmonton mom of two dies after contracting COVID-19
The family of Juanita Storms still can't believe she's gone. They think the dedicated 43-year-old mother of two contracted COVID-19 while shopping over the holidays. Sarah Ryan has her story. – Jan 29, 2021

An Edmonton woman, and otherwise healthy mom of two, passed away from COVID-19 within a month of feeling symptoms.

Between Christmas and the New Year, Juanita Storms was sleeping a lot and running a fever, according to her mother, Virginia Sutherland.

“So I said you better call the COVID(-19) line,” Sutherland remembered.

The two live together, along with Storms’ 16-year-old son and her 12-year-old daughter.

Juanita Storms, or Jassz as friends knew her, died from COVID-19. Maggie Quinlan/Submitted

Under advice from health officials, Storms went to isolate in a hotel while she waited to be tested for the virus.

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It wasn’t long after she received the positive COVID-19 test that her health rapidly deteriorated.

Storms was admitted to the hospital within a few days but even then, her family stayed optimistic.

Her sister, Maggie Quinlan, remembers hearing the news and thinking her sister would get better soon.

READ MORE: ‘It isn’t a hoax’: Alberta family grieves as father lies dying of COVID-19 in B.C. hospital

But Storms’ health took a turn for the worse and things continued to go downhill fast. She was struggling to breathe and called her mom to say she was being intubated.

“And I just told her not to worry and everything will be alright. Her children are here and I’ll take care of them,” Sutherland said through tears.

According to her family, Storms loved painting, dancing, and most of all, her kids. She was an active volunteer in the community, helping feed underprivileged children and rescuing cats. Maggie Quinlan/Submitted

Despite being stable for a few days on the ventilator, things took a turn for the worse and the hospital reached out to Sutherland.

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“On (Jan. 21), I got a call that I should go to the hospital that evening and that her organs were shutting down,” she recalled.

Sutherland brought Storms’ children to say goodbye, but their mom was unconscious, on a ventilator and life support.

Her family couldn’t believe what was happening.

Storms passed away from the virus on Jan. 22, only weeks after she started to feel unwell.

“I was just in shock,” Sutherland said. “COVID(-19) is very real.”

READ MORE: ‘A shadow of what I was’: COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ shed light on brain-related symptoms

Storms’ family believes she caught the virus while shopping over the holidays. Her mom still remembers Storms telling her about that outing.

Sutherland said Storms always wore a mask, and took precautions to protect her family. Storms didn’t have pre-existing health conditions herself, but her mom is elderly.

Sutherland said she always thought she would die before her daughters.

Storms was a busy, and otherwise healthy, mom of two young kids. Maggie Quinlan/Submitted

“She was 43-years-old. I never thought it would happen to my family.”

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Quinlan said she’ll remember her older sister for her bubbly personality.

Her family is making arrangements for a traditional Indigenous funeral ceremony, and started a GoFundMe to help cover the associated costs.

“It’s going to be so hard to go on without her,” Sutherland cried.

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