Mum's vaccine plea after 'heart of gold' daughter's Covid death
- Credit: Steven Kemp/Norwich Community Choir
The mother of a 28-year-old from Norwich who died of coronavirus has urged people to take up the offer of a vaccine as she paid tribute to her daughter.
On January 18, Kyanna Sutton died at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), having initially been admitted with what she believed were asthma-related symptoms after Christmas.
Her mother, Kirstie Sutton, described her as having a "heart of gold" and said she always put others first - even sending her a gift from her hospital bed.
Having planned not to take the Covid vaccination, Ms Sutton has now had her first jab and encouraged others to do the same.
Kyanna, who worked at the post office on Aylsham Road with her mother, initially went to the hospital with concerns over her brittle asthma, a rare form of the condition.
It had worsened in the last few years, and she had become reliant on steroid treatment.
She had been shielding for the better part of a year, staying away from work and only visiting supermarkets with carers at quieter times.
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Shortly after Kyanna was admitted, though, Ms Sutton said she received a call from her daughter saying she had tested positive for coronavirus.
"She was panicking," she said. "I thought 'right okay, we'll deal with it, it is what it is'. I was thinking we'd get tests and I'd go and stay at her flat to feed the cat, I didn't think anything more about it."
Ms Sutton and her husband tested positive for coronavirus days later, and she said they felt "awful".
She kept in touch with Kyanna via regular video calls as the hospital teams battled to increase her oxygen levels, avoiding invasive methods and using a 'helmet', but concerns remained.
"The words that stuck out were when [a consultant] said 'when it gets to that point I will give you the opportunity to see her' - they didn't say 'if'," she said. "I panicked at that point.
"In the back of my mind I thought it's not going to be great, but you try and switch off. We always had that hope she'd be okay."
During this time, Kyanna, who lived on Gertrude Road, posted videos from her hospital bed to Facebook, in one urging people to "please be safe".
The pair enjoyed their longest video call since she was admitted, around five to 10 minutes, one morning. But doctors phoned later that day to say she had taken a turn for the worse. Kyanna, who was a singer and a soloist in the Norwich Community Choir, had been fully sedated and ventilated.
A few days later, the phone call they had been dreading came.
"I was woken up by the phone, and they said 'we think you need to come in'," she said. "All I could think was 'I have got to clean my teeth'. I was thinking 'how do I cope with this'?"
When she arrived she was masked and gowned, before she was taken to Kyanna's room.
"As I walked in I could hear her singing," she said. "On the computer that was next to her they had her playing. They thought it would be nice for her to hear something she would remember. It was really surreal."
Ms Sutton, later joined by her sister, said a heartbreaking farewell as doctors revealed her lungs had been so damaged there was little hope of recovery. After some time spent by her side, Ms Sutton allowed doctors to turn off life support.
"We came out and it was bright sunshine, and people were chatting and laughing and it was like 'has this really happened'?"
Since then, she said she has been on autopilot, but could feel the grief "bubbling" under the surface.
She is focusing on remembering her kind-hearted daughter, a young woman who would help post office customers find cheaper deals on their bills and gift her sister Kaitlin boxes full of her favourite things.
As her funeral procession passed, people lined streets to pay their tributes.
"She was always worrying about others," she said. "She never put herself first. She sent me a bottle of Malibu while she was in hospital because she knew I loved it. It sums her up. She had a heart of gold."
Ms Sutton has spent a couple of days back at work at the post office, and said people always asked after her when they came in.
"It's like a family," she said. "One good thing that's come out of this is you can see how much people do for each other. We had so many people rallying around."
Ms Sutton, who lives on Pinder Road, urged people to get the vaccine if offered, saying that the loss of Kyanna and her own experience with coronavirus - she still isn't back to full health and struggles with her breathing - had changed her own decision.
"At first I was 110pc not having the vaccine, the last few flu jabs made me really ill," she said. "I thought if I caught [coronavirus] I'd handle it. But I've now had the first jab and will get the second one soon.
"If it gives you a little bit more of a chance it's worth it. If I passed it onto someone I would feel awful. Her weight and asthma didn't help, but it was the Covid that got her."
There are plans on Saturday, November 13 from the Norwich Community Choir to hold a concert in Kyanna's memory at St Peter Mancroft church in the city.
At the time of her death, Norwich Community Choir posted on Facebook and said: "Our beautiful soloist Kyanna has sadly passed away after a short illness. Taken so soon at only 28 years old.
"RIP lovely lady you will be so sadly missed by all of the choir members past and present. I can’t put into words how your voice made us feel when we sang alongside you. You were a special lady and a friend to each and every one of us."