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‘This virus is savage’: Daughter of nurse who died after contracting COVID warns second wave ‘is very real’

Written by on 27/10/2020

The grieving daughter of a nurse who died three weeks after being diagnosed with coronavirus is urging people to act responsibly saying “the second wave must be taken seriously”.

Denilee Vianzon’s mother Emma was only 57 when she lost her life two weeks ago in intensive care in the Nightingale Hospital in Belfast.

“I’m furious and angry that people think that this is non-existent, when it very much is,” said Denilee, who is 28 and lives in London.

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Collect pic of Emma Vianzon (L) with eldest daughter Julie (R).
Image: Emma Vianzon with her eldest daughter Julie, who is still unwell with the virus

It’s very real and we have to act responsibly and take things seriously. This is not a joke. It costs thousands of lives and it’s only set to get worse as we get to the colder months.”

Emma was diagnosed along with her partner Brendan and the eldest of her three daughters in September.

And while her partner, who has since recovered, was sent to hospital in an ambulance, Emma was adamant that she would stay at home and recover there.

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But Denilee said “things began to crumble” very quickly, complicated by the fact she had a kidney transplant in July after three years on dialysis.

Collect pic of Denilee(L), Emma (C) and Centinia,22, (R)
Image: Denilee (L), Emma, (C), and Emma’s youngest daughter Centinia, 22, (R)

“She had been given a new lease of life and she was high risk. I was worried that she might not survive,” said Denilee.

“Despite our urges to keep her indoors after her transplant, I think it was a few weeks after that, she was driving around delivering food to her friends who are all nurses – some on the front line – and she was delivering with a smile on her face.”

Eventually Emma – who had moved to Northern Ireland from the Philippines in 2002 – was taken to hospital and remained upbeat but was desperate not to be sent to the intensive care unit.

“Unfortunately she had to go in and I was unable to speak with her,” said Denilee, breaking down in tears.

“The last conversation I have had with her on FaceTime was her saying goodbye to me. She knew in her heart that she wasn’t going to make it from the ICU. That was very, very, difficult to hear.

“I tried and tried and tried to remain positive but sadly she was taken away.”

Collect pic of Brendan (L) and Emma (R)
Image: Emma and her partner Brendan

For the funeral Denilee wanted to make sure her final wishes were granted.

“I asked her partner ‘what did mum want to wear?’ and I had assumed she would want a piece of jewellery or a scarf,” she said.

“What was significant was her nurse uniform because she was proud and she was dedicated through and through.”

But what would always have been an emotional day was made harder by coronavirus.

“Saturday just gone, which was my mother’s funeral, is the worst day of my life,” she said.

“It’s hard enough losing a mother but losing her in these current circumstances in this unusual setting as well is very, very difficult.

Emma, (L) with friends Bernard Cortez and Teresa Cushley
Image: Emma, left, with friends Bernard Cortez and Teresa Cushley

“I was crying. I was distraught. I was stunned. I had all these emotions rushing through me yet we weren’t able to comfort one another. The embrace, the warmth you would usually feel was taken away.”

In addition, her elder sister remains unwell with COVID-19 and had to stay in the car during the service.

“I couldn’t comfort her, I couldn’t hug her,” said Denilee.

“It was very traumatic for me as we walked past her in front of the hearse, I had to just wave and cried. It was honestly… It was a cold funeral for the warmest person I have ever known.”

The last time Denilee saw her mother, who had also survived a brain aneurysm, was at Christmas.

“This second wave must be taken seriously because it does cost lives.

“I myself have been patient and I myself had stayed away from seeing my mother after her transplant.

“That was very, very painful for me and I did that because I loved her and wanted to see her in the future but despite my efforts sadly this virus is too savage and too quick.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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