Mother who lost son with special needs to COVID-19 calls him her hero

ATLANTA — The mother of a 17-year-old Georgia boy who recently died of COVID-19 is urging people to get vaccinated to curb the spread, especially among children.

Channel 2′s Tom Regan was at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Scottish Rite, where Ni’Zay Elmore-Vance died on August 8.

His mother, Yashima Vance, said he was born with a congenital brain malformation that left him unable to walk or speak -- but that didn’t keep him from graduating from high school. Vance called her son her hero.

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“I didn’t want to lose my child to anything, let alone COVID,” Vance said.

She said near the beginning of August, he developed a high fever and had trouble breathing. He was flown to Scottish Rite on Aug. 5. Ni’Zay’s condition stabilized, but then took a bad turn and he died a few days later.

She said she was terrified she wouldn’t be able to see him again.

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“They tell you if you get sick, you can’t be in the hospital with your kids,” Vance said. “They’re going to be in there by themselves.”

Vance said her son overcame so many medical challenges in his life, and it was devastating to lose him to the virus.

“To live through having a trach to having to take a G-tube, and this disease just took him away from me,” Vance said.

The family said in a GoFundMe set up to cover Ni’Zay’s funeral expenses that the teen wasn’t expected to live past two, but made it to 17.

Vance said her son was a shining light to everyone who knew him.

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“He was the one who brought happiness in this house,” Vance said. “He was the one who kept everyone going, motivated everyone, to do what he couldn’t do.”

“He didn’t complain, he didn’t have a worry in the world, even though he wasn’t able to talk,” Vance said.

Vance said her son wasn’t vaccinated, but she intended to schedule him to get the shot. She was busy in the process of moving from another state.

Vance said she supports the vaccine and encourages people to get it.

“He probably would still be here if he had the vaccination,” Vance said.

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family.