Adeline Fagan, a second-year OB-GYN resident and 2019 graduate of the UB Jacobs School of Medicine, died on Saturday of a brain bleed after battling COVID. She was 28.
Fagan is being remembered as a “beautiful” and “passionate” doctor who wanted to help as many people as she could. The Syracuse native was a “fighter” who is now inspiring others to give back.
Fagan's story is also a cautionary tale of the dangers of COVID.
On July 8, Fagan worked a 12-hour shift treating COVID patients in the ER. She felt fine and was “excited” to see patients at the start of her shift, but sometime during the evening, she started experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Fagan spent the next few weeks in the hospital, as doctors tried treating her with several different respiratory therapies and dozens of drugs. When Fagan didn’t respond positively to these treatments, she was enrolled in an experimental drug trial.
But before her family could see if this new drug was effective, Fagan's lungs stopped supporting her.
On Aug. 3, Fagan was intubated and placed on a ventilator. On Aug. 4, she was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that pumps blood from the body, oxygenates it and pumps it back into the body.
Over the past few days, Fagan's family became optimistic that Adeline was turning a corner. On Friday night, a nurse called her parents and “sounded quite upbeat” when she said that Adeline was decannulated and no longer on the ECMO machine.
On Saturday night, Fagan was doing “wonderfully.” At 10 p.m., her family called the hospital and received a positive report. But 30 minutes later, they got a call back. A nurse had come into Fagan’s room for a routine task and noticed that she wasn’t responsive.
Fagan had suffered a massive brain bleed.
She was given a “one in a million” chance for survival.
“We spent the remaining minutes hugging, comforting, and talking to Adeline. And then the world stopped…” Fagan’s family wrote on their GoFundMe page.
Fagan was in her second year of residency in obstetrics and gynecology. She was memorialized by former professors and classmates in a story posted to the Jacobs School of Medicine website Monday.
“Addie decided on a career in obstetrics and gynecology fairly late in medical school, but once she made up her mind she was willing to do whatever it took to pursue her goal,” said Vanessa M. Barnabei, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology. “She had an amazingly positive attitude and infectious smile and her passing will deprive thousands of women of her empathy and commitment to their health.”
Fagan's father, Brent, kept an online journal detailing his daughter's battle with the virus.
“If you can do one thing, be an “Adeline” in the world,” Brent wrote. “Be passionate about helping others less fortunate, have a smile on your face, a laugh in your heart, and a Disney tune on your lips.”
Fagan's sister, Maureen, set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for medical expenses and support.
Justin Weiss is the senior features editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Justin Weiss is The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald. He can be found on Twitter @Jwmlb1.