“Our worst nightmare happened”: Local family loses 3-year-old to COVID-19

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A local family is heartbroken after losing their three-year-old daughter to COVID-19 complications.

“We knew our Princella can fight through everything, but this is the one thing that really, really scared us,” exclaimed Carlos Saavedra.

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Since Princella had special needs, it wasn’t totally out of the ordinary that they would be going to the hospital.

So when they brought her to Wolfson Children’s Hospital Tuesday, they thought it would just be another visit, but nothing could have prepared them for leaving without her that same day.

“Please hold your babies a little bit tighter, just a little bit tighter because that’s all I’m wishing for,” says Carlos Saavedra while holding back tears.

Life can change in an instant.

Parents Carlos and Sheyla Saavedra didn’t even have time to process what was happening to their whole world, their miracle baby Princella.

“At 7:30 p.m., the doctor calls me and says, ‘hey, there’s only one parent allowed at a time, but it’s time for you to get here with mom,’ and that’s where, that’s when our world changed because we kind of knew.”

Six days earlier, Princella was her normal happy self. Yes, she needed 24-hour care, but that didn’t stop her from defying the odds.

“Princella was born with a rare, rare deformation in the brain where the brain doesn’t separate, it stays as a whole.”

Doctors gave her a week to live, and she celebrated her third birthday in May.

“We started to look forward for Halloween and we were started to look forward for her next.”

They tackled every obstacle as a family with no fear, but COVID-19 was a different story. They knew she was high risk.

“Our worst nightmare happened.”

But they never thought it would happen so quickly.

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Last Wednesday, they noticed she had been on more oxygen than usual.

“I went ahead and took her and got her looked at, and the doctor said, ‘yeah, she tested positive for COVID’ and it stunned me because this is what I had been preventing the most as her dad, as her protector,” explains Carlos Saavedra.

Less than a week later Princella was heading to Wolfson Children’s Hospital. Hours later, they had to say goodbye to their queen.

“I left that hospital without her, walking down the hallway by myself. Getting in the car, not putting her in her car seat. I was like, God, I just want people to understand I was the best dad to my Princella and I know the pain. I know the pain.”

They don’t want any other family to feel that pain.

“Please take it serious when the kids say, daddy, I don’t feel good, take that and go above and beyond, because I got her tested Wednesday, and then by Wednesday, she wasn’t there anymore.”