Erica Becerra had recently moved to Detroit from Los Angeles with her husband and 1-year-old daughter when she began to experience contractions and spent two days at a hospital for observation. Soon after returning home, she began to show COVID-19 symptoms.
On Thursday, she died of complications from the virus, two weeks after giving birth to a son she was never able to hold.
“Erica was the most wonderful person you could ever meet,” her brother, Miguel Avilez, told Anderson Cooper in an interview on Monday. “Her main concern was other people. For her, other people’s happiness was her happiness.
“She followed every rule in the book and she still ended up catching [the coronavirus].”
Even as they mourn, Avilez and others of Becerra’s friends and family have said they want to share her story to raise awareness of the deadliness of COVID-19 and perhaps spare others the pain they are experiencing.
“It’s sad, you know, you’ve got a lot of people who don’t understand what’s going on, think [the pandemic] is a joke until it happens to them or one of their family members,” Avilez wrote on Facebook. “My sister would want for me to help people, just like she did. I’m going to keep her name alive.”
Avilez said that in the first week of November, his 33-year-old sister began to experience contractions and spent two days as a patient at the Henry Ford Hospital for observation. Soon after returning home, Becerra began to show COVID-19 symptoms.
“She called my mom that Monday morning [and said], ‘Mom, I think they hurt me at the hospital, it hurts to breathe, it hurts to move, I don’t feel good.'”
By Nov. 11, Becerra’s condition had deteriorated to such an extent that she had to be rushed to the hospital via ambulance. After three days with no improvement, her doctors made the decision to induce labor.
Baby Diego Antonio — named for his father — was born Nov. 15. Becerra was intubated immediately after giving birth.
“Right after she gave birth to her son, they put her in the tube because her body wasn’t retaining oxygen anymore,” Avilez told CNN. “And then after that, she wasn’t able to meet her newborn baby.
“From what the nurse told us, they were only able to put him up to her cheek [but] she wasn’t conscious at the time anymore.”
In an interview with Los Angeles CBS affiliate KCAL, Avilez said through tears that he and other family members traveled to Detroit last week as Becerra’s condition worsened.
“Towards the last moments, she was tearing up,” Avilez said. “I know she heard us as we prayed for her, we talked to her, we comforted her in the last moments.”
In Monday’s CNN interview, Avilez said that the entire family will do whatever it takes to support Becerra’s husband, son, and daughter.
“As much as my sister loved everybody, everybody is going to be there for those two babies. They have a lot of love from both sides,” he said. “Right now we just gotta enjoy them as much as we can.”
Becerra’s family and friends aren’t the only ones to offer support. On Friday, her godmother, Claudia Garcia, created a GoFundMe to help the family with funeral expenses and the cost of travel from Los Angeles to Detroit.
The goal was $10,000, with the promise that any extra money would go directly “towards the day to day needs of [Becerra’s] young children.”
As of Tuesday, more than 1,700 people had donated more than $70,000.