In a time where schools are reopening without teachers getting vaccinated, a family mourns the death of their 9-year-old girl. Makenzie Gongora is a 4th-grader from San Antonio, Texas, who started feeling sick in her after-school care program on Friday, Jan. 29. “Kenzie was complaining about a really bad headache and then they took her temperature and she had a fever,” her aunt, Victoria Southworth, told KSAT.
Makenzie’s mom, Kristle, took her to a medical center the same day to get tested. The results came back negative for strep and flu but the COVID-19 test was positive. Makenzie, who had no preexisting conditions other than being a little small for her age, the family told Today, was experiencing just mild symptoms and no respiratory problems.
“The doctors told my sister-in-law [to] take her home and to make her comfortable, to monitor her fever, and if it got over a certain point, or if there were any other major issues that occurred, to go ahead and bring her back to the hospital,” another aunt, Erica Gongora, told the outlet.
Throughout the weekend, Makenzie’s family monitored her closely. She said at times that she wasn’t feeling well and started vomiting at one point, but otherwise “seemed to be recuperating,” Southworth told KSAT.
On Monday night, Makenzie told her mom that she was very tired and that her stomach hurt, and went to bed early. Shortly after midnight, Makenzie died in her sleep.
The family is waiting on an autopsy to better understand her cause of death.
“Hopefully that’s going to give us the answer as to whether or not this was completely COVID related, or exacerbated by COVID or nothing to do with COVID,” Southworth told Today.
COVID-19 is typically milder for young children and this case has left doctors “baffled,” Erica said. “We want to get answers as to why she was taken so quickly from us,” Southworth said to KSAT.
As they wait for more information, Southworth has set up a GoFundMe for funeral and medical expenses, and any income loss as the family mourns Makenzie’s death.
The family is sharing Makenzie’s story to show how the virus can affect kids. “We want to raise awareness because whatever it is that caused this, there just needs to be a general change in the way that people approach children and COVID,” Southworth said.