An unvaccinated Kentucky woman spent what would have been her wedding day on a ventilator being treated for COVID-19. She later passed away three weeks later.
Samantha Wendell, 29, was engaged to marry Austin Eskew on August 21. But after returning home from her bachelorette party in late July, she began to come down with symptoms of COVID, according to Los Angeles-based news station Fox 11. It began as a light cough which escalated in severity, and she developed stress hives. Wendell was finally admitted to the hospital on August 9 and was later transferred to a larger facility and put on a ventilator.
“She had broken out in stress hives before because of all of the stress of the wedding planning and everything that’s going on,” Eskew said. “She had it before and thought that’s what that was, but I told her, ‘You know, just to rule it out, if your work tests, see if they’ll allow you to get tested.'”
Wendell and Eskew were both unvaccinated. Due to the spread of the Delta variant, they had scheduled appointments to get the jab prior to their wedding, but Wendell’s positive diagnosis put their plans on hold.
Wendell was the only one out of the 11 women that attended her bachelorette party that contracted the virus. Eskew also tested positive, but it ended up being a lighter case that subsided quickly.
Wendell was found to have “dangerously low” levels of oxygen upon her admittance to a hospital and was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia shortly thereafter. By September 6, she was found to be negative for COVID and was allowed to see loved ones during normal visiting hours. Doctors were optimistic that she would make it.
However, on September 9, a CT scan showed that she had major scarring all over her lungs.
“And at that point, there was no chance of survival for her,” Eskew said. She was taken off of the ventilator and passed away the following day. Her funeral was held on September 18.
Eskew admitted that he and his fiancée had not gotten vaccinated due to misinformation they had seen. Wendell in particular was hesitant after hearing false claims that the shots were causing women to become infertile.
“At one point in time, I believe it came from one of her friends, to be honest, it could have been something she saw on Facebook because it pops up everywhere on there, but it was about fertility loss,” Eskew told Fox 11. “We wanted to have a family. That’s why we were hesitant at first.”
Infertility has emerged as one of the predominant false narratives surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines. Like most vaccine misinformation, it is believed to have initially spread on social media. COVID-19 itself appears to be more detrimental to pregnancy than any vaccines, as pregnant women have experienced an uptick in stillbirths due to the virus.
Experts have pointed to pregnancy stats from patients that took part in trials for the Pfizer vaccine to disprove such claims. During these experiments, 23 women ended up becoming pregnant. Only one of them ended up losing their pregnancy, but they were in the placebo group.
“The ones that are on the fence, especially if they’re in the same stance as I was, but if somebody is on the fence, and didn’t really care one way or the other, why put it off,” Eskew said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Eskew pay medical bills. As of Tuesday evening, it had nearly reached its $5,000 goal.