A 25-year-old woman has become the primary caregiver for her five siblings after they tragically lost their mother to COVID-19. Vanessa Perez, fr
A 25-year-old woman has become the primary caregiver for her five siblings after they tragically lost their mother to COVID-19.
Vanessa Perez, from Phoenix, Arizona, is raising her siblings, who range in age from 6 to 23, after the death of their 46-year-old mom, Mayra Millan, who passed away just a few weeks before Christmas.
‘She was full of love and ready to just give all her love to all of us,’ Perez told Good Morning America of her mom. ‘She always ensured that we had exactly what we needed. We didn’t always have what we wanted, but we always had what we needed.’
Heartbreaking loss: Vanessa Perez, 25, from Phoenix, Arizona (center), has become the primary caregiver for her siblings after the death of their mom, Mayra Millan
Tragedy: Millan, 46, died from COVID-19 on December 14 after contracting the virus around Thanksgiving
Millan became sick with COVID-19 around Thanksgiving, and her eldest daughter believes she contracted the virus while working at a local grocery store.
All five of her children lived with their mom in Phoenix, and they were concerned for her health as the family’s only essential worker.
Perez said that after her brother Carlos, 23, had graduated from college in May and was looking for a job to financially take care of his mom and their siblings — who are 20, 16, 15, and 6 —so she wouldn’t have to work in the pandemic.
Arizona has had a total of 628,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 10,147 deaths as of Monday, with cases in the state soaring.
Hard to handle: Millan was an essential worker at a local grocery store, and Perez believes she contracted the virus at work
Health concerns: Perez called an ambulance for her mom on December 1 after her symptoms went from fever, fatigue, and a headache to difficulty breathing
Loss: Millan, who didn’t have any preexisting conditions, according to her eldest daughter, died just a few weeks before Christmas after being sedated and on a ventilator for two weeks
Millan didn’t have any preexisting conditions, according to Perez, who called an ambulance for her mom on December 1 after her symptoms went from fever, fatigue, and a headache to difficulty breathing.
That was the last time they spoke to their mother, who was sedated and on a ventilator the entire time she was hospitalized.
Perez, who works with high school students full-time, said they called the hospital for information on her mom’s condition up to four times a day because they weren’t able to visit in person due to COVD-19 restrictions.
‘They would tell us she was getting better and we would get our hopes up high,’ Perez told WBNS. ‘And then the next day the same lung that had collapsed, re-collapsed.’
Millan died on December 14, leaving Perez to plan her mom’s funeral and care for her siblings. She is trying to get guardianship of her youngest three siblings.
So sad: Things have been particularly hard on Perez’s six-year-old sister, Melania, who is having trouble grasping what happened to their mother
Family: Perez, who is trying to adopt her three youngest siblings, said they are ‘helping each other move forward’
‘Immediately what came to my mind was my siblings,’ she said. ‘I’ve always been like their second mom and I just didn’t want them to feel any pain.’
Things have been particularly hard on six-year-old, Melania, who is having trouble grasping what happened to their mother.
‘I’ve tried to explain to her in simple terms that God took mom and we’re going to see her again, but she doesn’t really understand,’ Perez told GMA. ‘It’s been extremely overwhelming.’
The family has received help from both their extended relatives and community. A GoFundMe that was started to help Millan’s children and cover her funeral costs has raised over $24,000, so far.
‘I’m being strong for all my siblings,’ Perez explained to WBNS. ‘But I’m really grateful and I always tell them that I’m happy there’s so many of us. God bless because we’re what’s helping each other move forward.’