A local family is in mourning after the tragic coronavirus-related death of a pregnant mother of five on Christmas Day.
Just a week before before her death, Maria Elena Vargas had just turned 35th birthday and was 7-months pregnant with her sixth child on the way.
Vargas's younger sister, Clarissa, spoke exclusively with Telemundo 15's Marco Revuelta about what happened.
"My sister was everything to me, she was my only sister and sadly she's no longer here with us," Clarissa said.
Clarissa said that for several weeks her sister complained about some unclear symptoms but they weren't sure what was wrong with her.
"She didn't know what she had as she was pregnant. She looked swollen, she said, 'I think it's high blood pressure,' and I said, 'No, go to the hospital,'" Clarissa said. "She was very healthy. She didn't have anything, she didn't have diabetes, cholesterol, nothing at all," Clarissa said.
Maria went to the hospital on Dec. 23 and from there, her condition continued to worsen due to respiratory issues. Clarissa maintained faith that her sister would pull through.
"I prayed, prayed, prayed. I asked my mom, as she is also in the sky, 'Please don't take her from me yet," Clarissa said.
But at 3 a.m. on Christmas, Maria died from a combination of coronavirus complications and preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, most often the liver and kidneys.
The baby that Maria had been carrying for seven-months did not make it.
Maria's family is not sure how she contracted the virus.
"She was struggling to survive the pandemic right now, suddenly she got sick," Clarissa said.
Maria Elena Vargas leaves behind five children, ages 1, 11, 12, 13, and 16. Clarissa said her kids were Maria's whole world.
"Always happy, smiling, always with the children, taking photos in the park," Clarissa said.
With no mother to care for them, the family plans to help Maria's five children through this difficult time. Maria's family not only has to deal with her tragic loss but also a $7,000 funeral costs.
"That is including the most basic, no flowers, or anything else, because we do not have for that. Please help us in whatever way you can," Clarissa said.
The family hopes to lay Maria to rest with her mom.
A GoFundMe page has been set-up to help the family pay funeral expenses. Click here to donate.