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40-year-old dies from COVID-19 20 minutes before first grandchild is born

Shane O'Neal's daughter, Kylie Dean, said her father planned to get vaccinated the week he tested positive for COVID.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Kylie Dean got the call while she was in labor.

Her father's doctor was on the other line and the news wasn't good.

"He just said, 'I hate to tell you this right now, but despite all of our efforts, your dad's not going to make it,'" Dean said.

Dean's 40-year-old father, Shane O'Neal, died from COVID-19 after a couple of weeks in the hospital at 3:30 a.m. Sept. 3.

"Not even 20 minutes later, I had a baby in my arms," she said.

Dean gave birth to her son, Preston Eugene, at 3:49 a.m.

“The timing, I look at the good in every situation and that's what I tried to do," she said. "So, I don't think it was a coincidence," 

Last month, Dean searched across the country for an ECMO machine for her dad, life support that replaces the heart and lung's functions.

RELATED: Family of man in hospital with COVID on mission to find him ECMO machine

“We found an ECMO bed, like a miracle, but the ECMO was going great, but everything else was falling apart,” Dean said.

Dean, an ICU nurse, said her dad planned to get vaccinated the week he tested positive for COVID. She said he didn’t have any underlying health conditions.

“Unfortunately,  I was personally impacted by it [COVID], and granted, I'm personally impacted by it at the hospital every day that I work, and but overall, it's a monster and people need to be careful,” Dean said.

She said she can’t wait to tell her son everything about the grandpa he never got to meet.

“He was amazing. There was nothing that he couldn't do. We were always doing something. He was so much fun. He literally could light up a room with his personality,” she said. “There was nothing he couldn't fix. I can't tell you how many times I had to call him to come fix a picture that I hung up on a wall because it was crooked or uneven.”

“He was basically one of my best friends," Dean added. "We did everything together. He lived down the road for me. Whenever I made dinner, I went ahead and made an extra plate because he was coming over to eat dinner."

Dean said she’s working to start an ECMO program to get more of the machines to area hospitals.

RELATED: Faces of COVID: Honoring the ones we've lost on the First Coast

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