Nearly $600,000 has been raised for a college student and her younger brother after their father, mother and grandmother lost their lives to COVID-19.
The Hannah and Joseph Kim Family Fund was set up in the wake of the siblings’ bereavements, having been left to manage their family affairs throughout the ordeal. ‘Being home has been hell. I can’t do anything. I have no power. All I can do is pray,’ 22-year-old Hannah earlier wrote.
Their problems began when their 85-year-old grandmother, who had dementia, moved into their apartment in the Koreatown neighborhood of Central Los Angeles, in a bid to protect her from the pandemic’s spread through nursing homes.
Hannah documented the evolving home situation in a published journal, made possible through a project with the Koreatown Youth and Community Center and The Eisner Foundation.
Noting her grandmother’s declining health, Hannah wrote:
On April 27, my mom and I had to make a very hard decision. If we sent our grandma to the hospital, there was a chance we wouldn’t be able to ever see her again. But we knew she was going to pass away if we kept her in our home.
Not long after her grandmother was admitted to hospital, Hannah found her dad in his chair at home, slumped and feeling weak. Soon after, the blaring of sirens rang in the distance – he’d phoned an ambulance for help.
The last time I saw my dad was when he entered the ambulance. I stood there with my mask on and nodded at him trying to signal that everything would be okay. I wasn’t sure if it would be, but I wanted him to feel safe… and I stood there in my pajamas, watching the ambulance drive farther and farther away.
Later that same day, their mother felt ill. After waiting five hours at the hospital, she was told there were no beds available.
‘When she got home, she couldn’t stop vomiting and coughing up blood. The next morning, I took her to the hospital again. She still had to wait about four hours, but this time, they admitted her,’ Hannah wrote.
Their grandmother passed away as their mum and dad lay in hospital. Both Hannah and Joseph, 17, also tested positive for coronavirus, having lost their sense of smell, but later recovered.
On May 21, their father also died. ‘This changes our lives — the way we live, the way we work, and the way we love each other. My brother and I are doing our best to prepare for our mother’s homecoming. We are cooking and cleaning — keeping each other accountable,’ Hannah wrote.
On May 29, their mother was actually released from the intensive care unit, with Hannah noting she was ‘on the road to recovery’.
However, such hope was short-lived; her condition worsened again, landing her back in intensive care with doctors saying she’d require a lung transplant due to the damage caused by the virus. On June 14, Hannah wrote on the GoFundMe page: ‘My mother is our family’s rock. My brother and I cannot lose her.’
However, weeks later, ‘doctors told us that my mom, unfortunately, wouldn’t make it out alive if she were to get the surgery’. On July 14, ‘the ventilator was her life support and her body couldn’t keep up’, and she passed away.
At the time of writing, the fundraiser is sitting at $593,217. In a later update, Hannah wrote on behalf of her and her brother: ‘I would like to say thank you to everyone who has shown my family so much love and support these past three months. It has truly been a traumatic time in our lives as it has been for many others.’