Covid-19 – Samantha Wendell was looking forward to her wedding this summer. According to her fiancé, Austin Eskew, the 29-year-old surgical technician had been meticulously planning every detail, from the seating chart to the Tiffany blue floral arrangements, for nearly two years.
So when the Covid-19 vaccines were released and some of Wendell’s coworkers claimed the shots caused infertility — an unfounded claim that has gained traction despite top reproductive health groups refuting it — Eskew, 29, “just kind of panicked.”
Wendell and Eskew, a correctional sergeant, wanted to start a family as soon as they married. The couple from Grand Rivers, Kentucky, hoped to have three, maybe four children in the future.
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Wendell decided that they should postpone their vaccinations. It was a decision that cost her life: instead of attending her wedding on Aug. 21, her family is now planning her funeral.
The funeral will be held this weekend at a church in Lisle, Illinois, near Wendell’s parents’ home. It was the church where she and Eskew were getting married, as well as the church where Wendell’s parents had married.
Jeaneen Wendell, her mother, said, “We dug out our wedding pictures.” “I was so excited to see the comparison pictures.”
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“There wasn’t anyone she wasn’t friends with,” said Samantha’s mother, Jeaneen Wendell, who is pictured here with her daughter.
What was supposed to be a happy occasion turned into a tense six weeks as the family watched Wendell, an outgoing woman who loved animals and made friends with everyone she met, struggle with Covid-19, they said.
Wendell’s fiancé, mother, and cousin told NBC News that they were sharing her story because they believed she would have wanted others to learn from her error.
“Misinformation killed her,” said Maria Vibandor Hayes, 39, a cousin who lives in New Orleans and said goodbye to Wendell via FaceTime before he died on Sept. 10. “This is the gift she left for us to deliver if we can save more lives and families’ lives.”
Despite her initial reservations, Wendell had recently changed her mind about the vaccine.
As the delta variant spread, increasing the number of cases and imposing restrictions on those who were unvaccinated, she decided in early July that it was time to get vaccinated ahead of the couple’s honeymoon to Mexico.
She and Eskew scheduled vaccinations for the end of July. Meanwhile, wedding preparations were underway, with dress fittings, menu tastings, and a bachelorette party in Nashville, Tennessee.
Wendell became ill shortly after returning from Nashville, and less than a week before they were scheduled to be vaccinated.
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They both tested positive for the coronavirus, making them ineligible for their vaccinations until they recovered. It was a chance that Wendell never had.
Wendell and Eskew had no underlying medical conditions. Eskew developed a high fever and was able to treat his Covid symptoms at home, but Wendell’s condition deteriorated. Her fiancé knew she needed to go to the hospital about a week into her illness, as she gasped for air.
Doctors attempted but failed, to stabilize her. On August 16, five days before her wedding, she was placed on a ventilator. The wedding was postponed in the hopes that it would take place later in the year.
Wendell, on the other hand, did not regain her ability to breathe on her own. After multiple doctors told her family she had no chance of survival, her loved ones made the agonizing decision to remove her from life support last Friday.
‘This could have been easily avoided.’
Wendell, according to Vibandor Hayes, “gave the sweetest hugs” and was always laughing. When Vibandor Hayes called to say goodbye, she expressed hope for a miracle.
“It was so heartbreaking and traumatic not to be able to see that smile and hear that giggle,” she said. “All I could think was, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you,’” she says.
Eskew is distraught as a result of Wendell’s death. They’d been together since college, meeting during freshman year orientation, and were excited to start their married life together.
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“She had such a strong influence in everything I do,” he said, recalling a time when he went grocery shopping earlier this week and was unsure what to get because it had always been a joint task he shared with Wendell. “We never did anything without the other in mind.”
“We never did anything without the other in mind.”
Covid Vaccines Myth
The myth that Covid vaccines can cause infertility is widespread. Allison Williams, an ESPN reporter, made headlines earlier this month when she announced that she would be leaving her job, which requires employees to be vaccinated because she and her husband are trying to conceive a second child and she does not want to get the shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is currently no evidence that the Covid vaccine or any other vaccine causes fertility problems in men or women, and the vaccine is recommended for everyone who is eligible for it, including “people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future.”
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According to the CDC, the benefits of receiving the vaccination outweigh the risks for women who are already pregnant, based on data showing that pregnant women are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill from Covid.
Wendell asked doctors in the hospital before being put on the ventilator if she could get a Covid vaccination, according to her mother.
“Obviously, it wasn’t going to help at that point,” Jeaneen Wendell explained. “It just breaks my heart that this could have been easily avoided.”