Five-month-old Jay-Natalie, the daughter of New York City firefighter Jerel La Santa and Board of Education employee Lindsey La Santa, spent a month in the hospital receiving treatment for the virus before succumbing to it Monday.
Her father, who became a firefighter in November, the same month she was born, called Jay-Natalie a “warrior princess” for her “fighting spirit,” Prosper wrote.
Jerel and Lindsey took their daughter to a Bronx hospital with a fever on March 21, Jay-Natalie’s grandmother Wanda La Santa told CNN. The baby had a heart condition, so they were already concerned for her health.
She wouldn’t leave the hospital until she died. Her parents stayed by her side the entire time, Wanda La Santa said.
There was a period when Jay-Natalie’s condition seemed to improve — fluid in her lungs was clearing, and her family was optimistic.
But she suddenly went into cardiac arrest, and doctors couldn’t resuscitate her, Wanda said.
Her death devastates her family
Wanda said her son and daughter-in-law are “destroyed” by Jay-Natalie’s death. She was the couple’s first child, and Wanda’s first grandchild.
“She was the most precious thing we had,” Wanda said.
They’ll donate the extra funds to the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore and the Albert Einstein neonatal intensive care unit, where she spent time as a newborn.
Meanwhile, Jerel’s colleagues at his Bronx fire station have warmly embraced Jerel and Lindsey in their crisis — they treat the La Santa family “like gold,” Danielle said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the La Santa family during this tragic time,” an FDNY department spokesperson told CNN.
CNN’s Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.