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October 2020 our lives were flipped upside down when my healthy uncle was admitted to my hospital where i’m a registered nurse with an unknown cause of presenting with what we thought was sepsis. After almost two daunting weeks of biopsies, intubation, multiple IV drugs and etc. He was diagnosed with HLH from an unknown cause, usually what occurs in young children. He made it out on the other side, he was alive. His rehabilitation consisted of hard work and perseverance which he had both. He returned home for two short weeks until he contracted covid 19. He was on week 6/8 of chemotherapy- the primary treatment for HLH which we know made him compromised. His oxygen saturation was 62% on room air when EMS arrived. The gut wrenching feeling of known what was coming next I still cannot stomach. Each hour I check in on him he was on more and more oxygen. He was maxed out on oxygen so we knew what was next. On day 4 he was intubated. Before we knew it he was maxed out on the ventilator. He needed dialysis. He needed blood transfusions. The world had pretty much crumbled one day after another. On December 4 was my cousins 30th birthday where he and my aunt were finally allowed to come see him solely because we knew this was the end. My other two cousins waited downstairs at the hospital and facetimed while everyone said their goodbyes. Being a registered nurse on the frontline during covid had been more than enough but witnessing a loved one and your own family experience this suffering is like no other. If anyone had the pleasure of knowing this lively, loving and genuine man- you are so blessed.

Courtney Smith, New Jersey

Man smiling