A grieving Tsawwassen, B.C., woman is fighting for more information about her 46-year-old husband’s COVID-19 related death, after he was found unresponsive in their home on the morning of April 14.
Melissa Hance said her husband Reid was struggling with a fever and cough before his sudden death, symptoms related to his COVID-19 diagnosis.
“He was a perfectly healthy 46 year old, no underlying health conditions, non-smoker, worked out,” Hance told Global News.
“There is no way I was going to believe he was going to be taken from COVID.”
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, 19 people between the ages of 40 and 49 have died of COVID-19 in the province to date.
Reid Hance had been positive with the virus for 10 days prior to his death.
His wife Melissa and two children, aged 10 and eight, had contracted the virus over spring break.
“I just need something, I need something,” Hance said, questioning why an autopsy was not performed on her husband.
“My son has not cried since that morning he said goodbye, the only emotion out of him is that he’s mad. He’s mad at why it’s his dad, why is this happening to our family?”
The night before his death Reid had contacted 811, B.C.’s public health hotline, but decided not to go to hospital.
The next morning his family found him unresponsive and paramedics confirmed he had died in his sleep.
On top of unimaginable grief, the family was offered little medical explanation on why their otherwise healthy husband and dad had succumbed so quickly to COVID.
Hance demanded a further investigation, but an autopsy was never done.
“The reason why I was fighting so hard for this autopsy is my husband was an only child,” she said.
“Both his parents were deceased. I have two sons now, if there is something genetic I have the right — my children have the right to know.”
On Monday, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said coroner investigations into sudden and unexpected deaths take weeks or months.
“Should it be determined that COVID-19 is direct or underlying cause the coroner has a process that families are notified,” she said.
The BC Coroners Service also said in an email that when someone dies at home with COVID-19 the coroner investigation considers that diagnosis, but an autopsy may or may not be undertaken.
Hance, feeling the need to have an answer for her husband’s sudden death, worked with her family doctor to have her husband’s body examined with a post-mortem X-ray.
She said results showed bilateral pneumonia had damaged his lungs.
“Yes he contracted COVID, but it was bilateral pneumonia that killed him,” she said.
“This is how tragic, how fast, how indiscriminating this is.”
She’s begging others to take the virus seriously and hoping her story shows it can affect anyone.
She wants other to also know that families shaken by COVID deaths are likely all looking for the same kind of medical closure.
A GoFundMe for the family has raised more than $165,000.