Florida man dies of COVID-19 just minutes before meeting his first grandchild

A Florida man died from COVID-19 earlier this month just 20 minutes before becoming a grandfather for the first time.

Shane O’Neal, 40, died from COVID-19 at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Sept. 3. His daughter, Kylie Dean, gave birth to her son, Preston, at 3:49 a.m. the same morning.

Dean, an ICU nurse, told USA TODAY that her father was “super excited” about the birth of his first grandchild.

“Every time he’d go to the store, he’d pick up some baby clothes or baby toys,” she said.

But her father, who was from the Jacksonville, Florida area, tested positive for COVID-19 last month and was hospitalized for his symptoms. Dean said her father was not vaccinated against COVID-19, but he was scheduled to receive his inoculation the same week he tested positive for the virus.

O’Neal was still in the hospital when Dean, who also lives in the Jacksonville area, went into labor earlier this month.

She told USA TODAY that her father’s doctor called her at approximately 3 a.m. on the morning she gave birth, while she was surrounded by her husband and family and friends.

“He was like ‘I’m really sorry to tell you this right now, but your father just, despite all efforts, he’s basically not going to make it,” she said.

“I broke down and was literally sobbing. And my family and friends are standing at my window, watching me just literally break,” she said. “That’s probably the best way to describe it. I felt broken.”

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Prior to her father’s death, Dean searched for an ECMO machine to help him recover from the virus, First Coast News reported. The machine supports the function of the heart and lungs.

Dean remembered her father as “super funny” and “a great dad.”

“He did anything and everything for me and my brother,” she said.

And Dean added that her newborn son is already reminding her of her father.

“My dad would do the ‘I love you’ sign in sign language. And I’ve looked at Preston’s hands, just at random times, and he has that sign on his hands, like the ‘I love you sign,’” she said. “I don’t know if it’s coincidence, but it always brings me back to my dad when I see it.”

Florida, like states across the country, is documenting tens of thousands of COVID-19 cases weekly as the delta variant continues to spread. The state reported 75,906 cases from Sept. 10 to Sept 16, according to data from Florida health officials.

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