FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida teen described by loved ones as full of life is in the hospital fighting COVID-19 days before she had planned to receive the vaccine, her family said.
Relatives of 15-year-old Paulina Velasquez said she was excited to start her sophomore year at J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs.
Monday evening, she remains on a ventilator in the intensive care unit at Broward Health Medical Center.
“She’s intubated. She’s in an induced coma,” said her mother, Agnes Velasquez, who has also tested positive for COVID.
Paulina’s family said she is a healthy teen who was mindful of the virus and always wore her mask.
“Today is our day nine in the hospital. Every day it’s harder and harder sitting at the bedside with my daughter, next to her, holding her hand,” said Agnes.
“My sister always took precautions, and she made sure to always wear her mask everywhere. She was kind of scared of the virus, to be honest,” said her brother, Tomas Velasquez. “It’s actually really shocking to us.”
Tomas said he and his sister are best friends. In their last phone conversation before she was taken to the hospital, she had asked him to get the COVID vaccine.
“She started off with – she had trouble breathing, and she started kind of getting tired. She was telling my mom that she’s tired, she can’t walk,” he said, “so my mom took precautions and took her to the emergency room. It happened in the blink of an eye.”
The family learned she had COVID and pneumonia. Days later, she was intubated and put on a ventilator. Hospital staff move the position of her body every 12 hours.
Agnes said she has some symptoms, but she has not left her daughter’s side.
“I do sit next to her bed and pray, hold her hand and just praying, asking God to heal her and bring her back to me as soon as possible,” said Agnes.
“We put our daughter in God’s hands, and He’s there, He’s always there, and we’re praying, praying,” said Orlando Velasquez, Paulina’s father.
Parishioners at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, where the Velazquez family attends services, have lifted Paulina up in prayer.
Orlando and Thomas cannot be by Paulina’s side, but 7News cameras showed them embracing near the hospital entrance, Monday afternoon. They said they came to pray and to be near her.
Father and son also took the opportunity to warn others to be careful.
“I’m here to just encourage people and let everybody know that this virus is serious,” said Tomas. “A lot of people don’t believe that it’s serious, but my sister was a perfectly healthy 15-year-old.”
“My daughter is only 15 years old. She’s a good girl. She’s in really good condition, excellent, and for my kids, for everybody, it’s really hard to see her in that bed,” said Orlando.
Monday night, Paulina’s family said it appears her lungs might be clearing a bit, but it is far too early to know what her prognosis is at this point.
Paulina’s family is asking for the public’s prayers. They have created a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses. If you would like to make a donation, click here.
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