From The Intercept Brazil - Since April 3, mechanic José Ferreira and housewife Silmara Mourão have been mourning the death of their daughter. The baby was just three months old and died with symptoms of covid-19.
Parents say that because she has very low immunity - she was born with Bartter's Syndrome, a rare disease that causes potassium deficiency -, the child often had the flu. Last time, though, she had a lot of cough and shortness of breath. Taken by her family to the Emergency Care Unit, she was soon transferred to the Regional Hospital of Iguatu, in the interior of Ceará, and had no time to reach a referral hospital in Fortaleza. Due to suspicions that she was infected with the coronavirus, the family was unable to attend the funeral and had only an hour to say goodbye.
The confirmation that the daughter died as a result of the covid-19 came two days later, by telephone, when a servant from the municipality's health department informed them about the result of the examination. Minutes later, and still not quite understanding what was happening, the couple came across the mayor of the city, Ednaldo Lavor, from PDS, talking about the case on a live on Facebook. He did not disclose names, but said the baby's age and the neighborhood where the family lived. It was enough to put an end to all the couple's peace, who spent the night receiving calls and messages. Now, in addition to mourning and quarantine, they have to deal with the prejudice of city dwellers personally and on social networks.
I talked to José on the phone on Tuesday. Still very shaken, he, who was with Silmara by his side, told what the family is suffering and begged people to let them live their mourning in peace. The report has been edited for clarity.
Mayor Lavor and the municipal health secretary, George Xavier, were contacted but did not respond to the contact.
We were praying the Palm Sunday novena when we received a call from a DDD 081. It was a woman from Recife, asking if we were okay, if we felt anything in the last few days and talking about some precautions we should take. We were surprised by that and asked why she was saying these things. That's when she said she was from the Ministry of Health and was monitoring people to see how they were doing.
Then he called another number, now from Iguatu [city in the interior of Ceará, 440 kilometers from Fortaleza]. It was a woman from the city health department, who said that our baby's test was positive for the coronavirus. So, suddenly. She also said that if we wanted to see the exam, she would send it. But the call went down, and we were unable to get in touch. I wish she had taken the exam to my house, that she would answer her cell phone and clarify things. But what happened was that, minutes later, the mayor was talking about the case on a Facebook live. It was only on Monday, after we spent the night without sleep, with the people calling and texting, that the exam arrived.
Our daughter had a very delicate health condition. She had Bartter's Syndrome, a rare disease that causes potassium deficiency in the body. So her immunity was low and she always had the flu. At three months, the size was that of a newborn baby - she only weighed 3.4 pounds. We always went to Fortaleza to deal with her problems. The last time had been on March 12th.
"On Sunday night, when we were in the most fragile situation, the mayor thought it would be better to hurt him more, releasing the story on the internet."
After that trip, she got the flu, got very tired and coughing. I didn't even have this coronavirus thing in Brazil yet, but we were already scared. We medicate at home, to avoid going out. It was on March 31 that she got worse, and we ran to the UPA. From there, she was rushed to the Regional Hospital of Iguatu. On the way, inside Samu's ambulance, he suffered a cardiac arrest, but he arrived alive at the hospital. On the 1st, she had to be intubated and a transfer to Fortaleza was requested because here she had no support to attend. But there was no time. On Friday, the 3rd, our daughter died.
The social worker said they were going to collect the material for the coronavirus exam and that the result would come out in 15 days. The worst thing that happened was that the city did not come to us before to explain everything properly. On Sunday night, when we were in the most fragile situation, the mayor thought it would hurt to talk more about the death of our baby on Facebook. In the city, there are high-ranking people who were suspected of having the coronavirus and nothing was ever said about them. Then, just because we are from the lower class, they immediately ripped into the social network.
After that, immediately everyone started calling and texting on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp. There was a picture of me with the girl in the groups, they made a report in the newspapers, they threw a picture of a child in an incubator on the internet saying she was our daughter and she wasn't. She never stayed in an incubator. This was all very embarrassing. We are suffering a lot of rejection from society. Everyone treats us with prejudice. We are being excluded and we have received a lot of criticism on Facebook. They even invented that my wife was hospitalized. God only knows how we are. We received support only from the family.
We have other daughters, one 11 years old and another 17 years old. This also has a deficiency, Turner Syndrome, which is the lack of growth hormone. How will our daughters face a classroom when they return to school? How will they face rejection and prejudice? The city is not providing any psychological support.
On the day our daughter died, we were told to follow a protocol from the Ministry of Health. They advised that there could be no wake, that it was at most one hour. It cut people's hearts. We are in mourning and, after the story hit the networks, we were very scared. Our life does not deserve to be exposed that way. My daughter is an angel, there in heaven. She deserves to rest in peace - and so do we.
Text written by: Nayara Felizardo for The Intercept Brazil