Parents say 28-year-old doctor who died after coronavirus battle spent her life helping people

Adeline Fagan, 28, was doing a rotation two months ago treating coronavirus patients in the emergency room when she developed an infection that ended last week with her death, now among more than 200,000 lives lost in the US to the pandemic. As her parents mourn her, they remember a woman who spent her life dedicated to helping others.

(CNN) -- Dr. Adeline Fagan's goal in life was to help people, her parents said.

It began when she was little -- an early talker who was an inquisitive people person. It carried on to when she was a 5-year-old, running around with a toy stethoscope around her neck.

It motivated the second-year OB-GYN resident to go into medicine and, later, to get onto the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic in Houston, her parents Mary Jane and Brant Fagan told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Tuesday.

Adeline Fagan, 28, was doing a rotation two months ago treating coronavirus patients in the emergency room when she developed an infection that ended last week with her death, now among more than 200,000 lives lost in the US to the pandemic. As her parents mourn her, they remember a woman who spent her life dedicated to helping others.

Fagan knew she was going to be a doctor from the time she was 11, Brant Fagan said. That was when she developed a terrible illness that put her in a wheelchair.

"She went to a doctor who talked to her like a real human being, like an adult practically, and from that Day 1, she said she wanted to be a doctor to help people like that doctor helped her," he said. "That one visit changed her life."

From there, she worked as a certified nursing assistant before medical school, and she went to Haiti four times on medical missions to serve people who lived too far outside a city to have easy health care access.

Though she had a history of asthma, upper respiratory infections and pneumonia, her sisters told TV station KHOU, going into work was "what (Adeline) wants to be doing."

"She just loved to help people, she really did," Brant Fagan said.

But in July, by the end of a 12-hour shift, Adeline Fagan began to feel under the weather, according to a GoFundMe page. Within the week, her symptoms escalated, and she was admitted to the hospital.

Her family couldn't be with her, even though she was "so incredibly frightened," Mary Jane Fagan said. But fortunately, Adeline had taken her cell phone with her to the hospital. The family would keep her on the phone all day as they went about her lives, not necessarily talking all the time but reassuring her that they were connected to her, her mother said.

It's not something every family of coronavirus patients gets to do, she said. And unlike most families, Adeline Fagan's parents got to see her in the days before she died.

As Mary Jane Fagan left the 15 or 20 minutes she was allowed with her daughter, Adeline mustered the energy to give her mother a kiss -- a gift the older woman will hold onto forever, she said.

The next time her relatives saw her, Adeline Fagan was suffering a brain bleed, and they held her in her last moments of life.

"So many parents have not been able to, and it breaks my heart," Mary Jane Fagan said.

The virus is still taking from them, Fagan's parents said. They are stuck with memories of not being able to go to their daughter when she was scared, knowing as a doctor what could lay ahead of her. And arranging a funeral for their child is even harder as they account for pandemic-related restrictions, Mary Jane Fagan said.

Adeline's parents want people to remember keep others safe by wearing a mask and social distancing, Brant Fagan said.

"It may be your mailman, it may be your doctor, or your nurse or your neighbor," he said. "You're doing it for other people, not necessarily yourself."

CNN's Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report.

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