Josh Willis pleaded with people to get vaccinated after his wife died of Covid-19 days after giving birth to their daughter and he said people are listening to his call.
he Derry man lost his wife Samantha (35) when she died in ICU in mid-August after contracting the virus, days after giving birth to her daughter Eviegrace.
Josh is now adamant to let Sam’s memory live on through their four kids while also encouraging people who are not yet vaccinated to do so.
He said there was a three-hour queue at a walk-in vaccination clinic in Derry the day after he pleaded with people on social media to get vaccinated if they have not done so already.
“If we can help just one person then that will make us happy. I pretty much know that’s happened already as a couple of Fridays ago I put up a Facebook post asking people to get vaccinated and I know people here locally queued for over three hours the next day for their first jab and I’ve been told that’s the reason why.
“I’ve been getting messages from all over the world saying similar things, of people saying they weren’t sure but they heard our story and said, ‘I’ve had my first jab or I’m booked in now’. It was enough to tip some people over the edge if they weren’t sure.
“I can’t force people to do it and I wouldn’t try to force people to do it but from our story, I wouldn’t wish it on anybody, so we’re trying to make a difference in any small way,” Josh said on Good Morning Britain.
Sam’s brother Adam has asked people to “hold their loved ones that bit tighter” after his sister’s death, as he said, “you never realise when the last time will be”.
Just a few weeks ago Josh & his wife Sam were excited for the arrival of their baby when they both got infected with Covid.
Josh had to wait outside as Sam gave birth and Sam sadly died just days later. Sam had been waiting until after the birth to have her Covid vaccination. pic.twitter.com/ruq8uHsMU5
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) September 1, 2021
Samantha died due to Covid after the couple decided it was best she waited until giving birth before she got the vaccine. Having found out at Christmas time she was pregnant, the public health advice at the time was for pregnant women not to take a vaccine.
The public health advice changed in the course of 2021 but with Sam’s due date so close, the couple figured it would not make much difference if she waited until giving birth to get the vaccine.
“It made the worst possible difference,” Josh said speaking after his wife’s death.
Sam initially had mild symptoms of Covid-19 but her breathing became more laboured and she was admitted to hospital and then ICU.
She passed away surrounded by Josh and her family. In a love letter to Samantha published by Independent.ie last weekend, he tells the tragic tale of sleeping beside her body in their bed when Sam was sent home for the wake.
He said walking out of the hospital room when Sam had died was the hardest thing he has done in his life.
“That night last week was and will forever be the worst night of my life. Myself, Holly (14), Shea (17) and your mother (Mary) were by your side when you took your last breath, although we didn’t know that at the time.
“All I could think about at the time was to keep brave, keep strong and try to stay positive — if that was possible.
“We spent a few hours with you that night. It was near impossible to walk out and leave you knowing it was our last time seeing you. Life will never be the same again.
“It took me about five times to leave you alone in that bed.
“You looked beautiful: you were wearing your outfit from Lilyanna’s christening and you were surrounded by photos, Eviegrace’s hat and blanket and one of her bottles along with other bits and pieces.
“You came home for the first time in 19 days last Saturday. I was grateful we could do this considering the circumstances.
“I slept beside you for two nights which I think helped me through those dark few days.
“I feel like I am missing a piece of me and I know that I will never get it back,” Josh’s heartbreaking letter reads.