Samantha Wendell was looking forward to getting married this summer. For nearly two years, the 29-year-old surgical technician had meticulously planned every detail, from the seating plan to the Tiffany blue floral arrangements, her fiance, Austin Eskew, said.
Wendell and Eskew wanted to start a family as soon as they got married, said Eskew, a correctional sergeant. The couple, from Grand Rivers, Ky., Hoped to eventually have three, possibly four children.
So when the Covid-19 vaccines came out and some of Wendell’s colleagues said the injections caused infertility – an unfounded claim that gained traction despite rebuttal from major reproductive health groups – she “just has one. little panicked, ”Eskew, 29, mentioned.
Wendell decided they should delay their vaccinations. It was a choice that cost him his life: instead of attending his wedding, which was due to take place on August 21, his family are now planning his funeral.
The funeral will be held this weekend at a church in Lisle, Ill., Near where Wendell’s parents live. This was the church where she and Eskew were to be married, and the same place where Wendell’s parents were married.
“We took out our wedding photos,” said her mother, Jeaneen Wendell. “I couldn’t wait to see the comparison photos.”
What was going to be a moment of celebration instead turned into a heartbreaking six weeks as the family watched Wendell, an outgoing woman who loved animals and easily became friends with everyone she met, struggling with Covid-19 , they said.
Wendell’s fiancé, her mother, and a cousin told NBC News they shared her story because they were sure she wanted other people to learn from her mistake.
“The disinformation killed her,” said Maria Vibandor Hayes, 39, a cousin who lives in New Orleans and said goodbye on FaceTime before Wendell died on September 10. “If we can save more lives and more family lives, then this is the gift she left us to deliver.
Despite her initial hesitation, Wendell herself had recently changed her stance on the vaccine.
As the delta variant spread, causing an increase in cases and restrictions were instituted on those who were not vaccinated, she concluded in early July that it made sense to get the vaccine before the couple’s honeymoon in the country. Mexico.
She and Eskew had vaccination appointments for the end of July. Meanwhile, preparations for the wedding continued: dress fittings, menu tastings and a bachelorette party in Nashville, Tennessee.
Right after returning from Nashville, and less than a week before the scheduled vaccination date, Wendell began to feel ill.
“She couldn’t stop coughing,” Eskew said.
Both have tested positive for the coronavirus, leaving them ineligible for their injections until they have recovered. It was an opportunity Wendell never had.
Neither Wendell nor Eskew had any underlying health issues, Eskew said. He raised a high fever and was able to treat his Covid symptoms at home, but Wendell continued to decline. About a week after the onset of her illness, while she was looking for air, her fiancé knew she had to go to the hospital.
Doctors have tried to stabilize her with limited success. On August 16, five days before her wedding, she was put on a ventilator. The wedding has been postponed, in hopes that it can take place later in the year.
But Wendell did not regain the ability to breathe on her own. Last Friday, after several doctors told her family she had no chance of survival, her loved ones made the excruciating decision to disconnect her from life support.
“It could have been easily avoided”
Vibandor Hayes remembered Wendell as someone who “gave the sweetest hugs” and always laughed. When Vibandor Hayes called her to say goodbye, she said she was hoping for a miracle.
“Not being able to see that smile and hear that laugh was so heartbreaking and traumatic,” she said. “All I could repeat was, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.'”
Wendell’s death left Eskew feeling lost. The two had been together since college, having met during the freshman orientation, and were excited to start their lives as husband and wife.
“She was so influential in everything I do,” he said, recalling a time when he went grocery shopping earlier this week, and found himself unsure of what buy, as it had always been a common task he shared with Wendell. “We never really did anything without the other in mind.”
“We never really did anything without the other in mind.”
The myth that Covid vaccines can affect fertility is pervasive. Earlier this month, ESPN reporter Allison Williams made headlines when she announced she would be stepping down from her job, forcing employees to get vaccinated as she and her husband are trying to conceive a second child and she doesn’t want to get it pulled.
There is currently no evidence that the Covid vaccine or any other vaccine causes fertility problems in men or women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends the vaccine to all eligible people, including ” people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or could become pregnant in the future.
For women who are already pregnant, the benefits of receiving the vaccination outweigh the risk, according to the CDC, based on data showing that pregnant women are at a greater risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid.
Before she was put on a ventilator, Wendell asked doctors at the hospital if she could get a Covid vaccine, her mother said.
“It wasn’t going to do any good then, obviously,” said Jeaneen Wendell. “It takes a heavy toll on my heart that it could have been easily avoided. “