Bethel family loses young father to COVID-19

Liane White, 35, with her children Presely, 14, Jonah, 11, Daniel, 8, and Natalie, 16 months, pictured at her husband’s gravesite on the day of his funeral, Nov. 25, 2020. (Courtesy of Liane White)

Bethel father Kevin White was only 35 when COVID-19 took his life. He left behind four children, ages 16 months to 14 years old.

His wife, Liane White, said no one expected Kevin to have a hard time with the disease.

“Kevin said he overheard [hospital staff] say Kevin was the youngest patient with COVID-19 and very bad symptoms. They said he was a very healthy person, very strong, and they couldn’t understand why he got so sick,” said Liane.

Kevin did have a history of suffering from pneumonia. So, when he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 29, Liane was worried. A few days later, when he was having a hard time breathing, she took him to the Bethel hospital.

She remembers when they parted. Kevin was in a wheelchair because he was so weak.

“He said, ‘I’ll see you later.’ And I smiled at him and I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll see you later. Just call me when you’re done and I’ll come get you.’ Before I walked away, I smacked him on his back and I said ‘I’ll see you later, buddy.’ And he looked kind of embarrassed, but he giggled and he said ‘Yeah.’ And that was the last time I touched him,” said Liane.

Kevin wasn’t at the Bethel hospital long. The next day he was flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage as his condition rapidly deteriorated. The family watched him fly off. By that time, they had all tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating. But none of them got as sick as Kevin.

Kevin was at Providence for less than a day before he called Liane to say that his breathing had gotten so bad that he was being put on a machine to breathe for him. She was not allowed to visit him. She came to Anchorage and phoned the hospital many times before anyone returned her calls.

The next time she saw Kevin was after a doctor invited her to watch the hospital staff turn her husband over on his back.

“I watched him breathe, and his heart rate going up and down,” Liane said. “And they said ‘we’re going to go turn him to his back, and I just want you to be prepared.’

As they were turning him, his heart rate on the monitor stopped. That was it.”

Kevin died on Nov. 16 at 12:59 p.m., 18 days after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Liane wants to thank everyone who has helped her family during this time. She said she advises everyone to take COVID-19 seriously, and for people of all ages to take precautions like wearing masks and social distancing.

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