Wednesday, 4 Aug 2021

Man dies of coronavirus on his 30th birthday, 9 days after his mother

A New Jersey mother and son died of the novel coronavirus within nine days of each other.

Thomas Martins, who had Down syndrome, was meant to be blowing out the candles on April 6, his 30th birthday. He succumbed to COVID-19 that day.

Nine days before, his mom died of the same illness.

“They were each other’s whole world,” Martins’ stepdad, Rudy Reitz, told BuzzFeed News. “Her entire life revolved around making sure that Thomas was healthy, loved and stayed active.”

Martins’ godmother, Joni Forte-Lewin, described his mom Carolyn Martins-Reitz, 55, as the “kindest and strongest wife, mother and friend imaginable,” in a GoFundMe.

Forte-Lewin wrote on March 30 that Martins was unaware of his mom’s death, later adding that he died on his birthday.

The fundraiser was initially set up to help offset the family’s medical bills, and has now been redirected to their funeral and after-death costs, the page reads.

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It’s since raised more than US$31,000 of its $50,000 goal.

“Even when I was with him in the hospital, he was asking about his birthday, and I told him, ‘Don’t worry. We’ll fix you up. We’ll get out of here and you’ll have your birthday,” Reitz told BuzzFeed.

Martins’ school for people with special needs, the Felician School, sent a cake and pizza to his hospital room, according to BuzzFeed.

They even sang to him on a video call.

“He passed away not long after that,” Reitz said. “One of the last things his subconscious got to hear was people singing him Happy Birthday.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

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