Marrisha Kindred Jenkins fell ill with COVID weeks before she was due to give birth to her third child and died before she could hold him
Every single life lost to COVID-19 is a tragedy, but for one Georgia family, vaccine hesitancy caused an unimaginable tragedy that cut short the life of a young mom of three, who never got the chance to hold her third baby in her arms as she battled the virus that ultimately took her life.
Marrisha Kindred Jenkins was due to give birth this month, but according to her family, she was diagnosed with COVID and pneumonia on September 4. Her mom, Helena Kindred, told Atlanta news outlet CBS46 that her daughter believed she had a cold, her symptoms began worsening and went to the hospital three days later with difficulty breathing. She ended up delivering her son Jaylen seven weeks early, but she never got to meet her new baby. Now, Kindred is pleading with other pregnant women to get vaccinated, with doctors telling her that her daughter likely would have survived the virus if she’d been vaccinated.
Kindred Jenkins’ newborn baby is COVID-19 free and healthy, but she was not able to meet him before she died. Though Kindred Jenkins was released from the hospital and was believed to have been doing better, on the day she returned to the hospital after a two-week quarantine to bring home her baby, she succumbed to the virus.
Though Kindred Jenkins’ husband called an ambulance and performed CPR, she was placed on a ventilator at the hospital, where doctors told her family she’d experienced severe brain damage, according to a GoFundMe set up to help her family offset medical costs and funeral costs for her. Kindred Jenkins died on September 23, with her mom sharing, “The nurse told me that if ReRe had been vaccinated — pregnant women that get COVID survive. But they won’t survive if they have COVID.”
Kindred explained that she doesn’t remember why, exactly, her daughter said she didn’t want to get vaccinated, but she’s urging other pregnant Black women to get vaccinated. In an interview with CNN, she said, “My message is please, please, please get vaccinated. To me it’s important for you to do it for you and your baby.”
Sadly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that pregnant Black women have the lowest vaccination rates in the country compared with other racial groups. While only 33 percent of pregnant Americans are fully vaccinated, the numbers are markedly lower among pregnant Black women — as of October 9, 18 percent of pregnant Black women are fully vaccinated, while 28 percent of pregnant Latino women, 35 percent of pregnant white women, and 48 percent of pregnant Asian women have been fully vaccinated against the virus. Of course, these statistics only serve to exacerbate the existing maternal health crisis faced by Black women in the U.S., who are more likely to die from pregnancy complications than any other group in the country.
Our hearts are with Kindred Jenkins’ family and please consult your doctor about getting vaccinated, especially if you are pregnant or have recently welcomed a baby.