Illinois family’s emotional battle with COVID: Mother hospitalized after giving birth, father fears job loss


MCHENRY, Ill. (WGN) – A suburban Illinois mother remains hospitalized after a grueling battle with COVID-19 that she fought while pregnant. As a result of the virus, she had to be put into an induced coma and gave birth early.

The woman’s husband is now speaking out on the emotional and physical challenges their family has faced.

Donnell Kelly of McHenry has been by his wife Samantha’s bedside at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital for the last three weeks.

On August 22, he tested positive for COVID. And a few days later, his wife and two children got sick. At the time, Samantha Kelly was pregnant with their third child, a baby boy.

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“It was really scary because she was complaining of loss of breath and chest pains,” Donnell Kelly said. “She’s breathing for two, so that’s why I was scared and nervous.”

Donnell Kelly first took his wife to Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin. That same night she was transferred to Lutheran General’s ICU.

Over the next few days, her health declined.

“Her breathing saturation got really bad. She was already on oxygen with full force, the highest pressure it could go,” he said. “It still wasn’t working for her and the baby.”

On September 6, at 32 weeks pregnant, Samantha Kelly had an emergency C-Section.

Baby Holden, weighing 5 pounds, was admitted into the NICU and is doing well.

But Samantha Kelly is still struggling.

“After he was born they put her on the ventilator right away and intubated her,” Donnell Kelly said. “She’s on a ventilator now.”

The young mother is still intubated and on sedation. Doctors are hoping to slowly wean her from the ventilator over the next few days.

She has a really big heart. She’s funny, beautiful inside and out… a great mom… She’s everything you want in a wife, partner and a friend.

Donnell Kelly describing his wife, Samantha

Donnell Kelly, who has been unable to work for the last month, is worried about losing his job and insurance coverage.

A friend set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical costs.

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“I always think positive thoughts about the situation. You think negative thoughts, it can eat you up,” Donnell Kelly said. “I knew COVID was real. I’ve seen the numbers. But when it hits you in the face personally, it’s a different kind of beast.”

Donnell Kelly said he was vaccinated, but his wife wasn’t. He said she was nervous about getting a COVID shot while pregnant, but had recently changed her mind after her husband tested positive. She became sick before she could get one.


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