Woman loses parents, brother to coronavirus while husband on life support

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Woman loses parents, brother to coronavirus while husband on life support
Kelly Conkey Billups (center) with her husband, Don Billups (standing left), who is on a ventilator; her parents, Judith and Lewis (sitting), who died Tuesday; and her brother, David Conkey, who died Sunday
Kelly Conkey Billups (center) with her husband, Don Billups (standing left), who is on a ventilator; her parents, Judith and Lewis (sitting), who died Tuesday; and her brother, David Conkey, who died Sunday

(NEW YORK POST) – An Ohio woman says the coronavirus has “destroyed” her family — killing her parents and brother as her husband remains hospitalized on life support, according to reports.

Kelly Conkey Billups, 54, said COVID-19 first claimed the life of her 51-year-old brother, David Conkey, on Sunday before her parents, Lewis and Judith Conkey, died just hours apart Tuesday at a hospital, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“It has broken my family,” Conkey Billups told the newspaper while quarantined at her Grove City home.

“It’s like a nightmare. It’s like … knowing that a big winter storm is blowing in and you get prepared and you hunker down and you just wonder how bad it’s going to get, how long it’s going to last and what happens when it’s all over and how you dig yourself out.”

But after seeing her brother and parents die in a span of days, Conkey Billups said, she “doesn’t know how to dig” herself out.

Making matters even worse, her 51-year-old husband, Don Billups, remained on a ventilator late Wednesday while hospitalized in critical but stable condition, she told the newspaper.

Don Billups initially tested negative for COVID-19, but doctors suspect the result was a false negative. The results of a second screening are pending, WJW-TV reports.

Her brother, who tested positive for the coronavirus several weeks ago, became ill in early March upon returning to his Austintown home after helping their 75-year-old mother settle in at a rehab center in Hilliard, the Dispatch reports.

He was then diagnosed with double ear and sinus infections before being placed on a ventilator, his sister said.

Days later, the pair’s father, Lewis Conkey, 77, got sick, followed by his wife of 57 years.

The pain compounded again on March 23 when Conkey Billups had to call an ambulance for her husband, who had texted her saying he couldn’t breathe, she said.

“My parents were absolutely amazing,” Conkey Billups told the Dispatch. “They did everything — everything — together for 57 years. Really we all just did everything together as a family. It was all of us or none of us.”

Conkey Billups’ parents and brother all had underlying health conditions, WJW-TV reports.

As she continues to pray for her husband’s recovery, Conkey Billups had a message for others trying to navigate the new reality created by the global pandemic.

“Most importantly, I want people to understand the urgency of staying home and social distancing,” she said. “That’s what I want to drive home. I want to spare another family the pain and trauma that we are living.”

Conkey Billups’ daughter, meanwhile, said she and her mother — who works as a realtor in Grove City — have not shown any of the flu-like symptoms that ravaged her family.

The grief, however, is almost overwhelming, she said.

“We’re hanging in there,” Katie Gardbrandt told WJW-TV.

“We’ve gotten a lot of prayers, support and love from all of our family, friends, several people we don’t know, as well as the hospital. And that’s really what’s keeping us going.”

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