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Family mourns state’s youngest COVID victim

Evelyn Wolfe hugs a photo of her younger brother, 12-year-old Aedan Selph, who died from COVID-19 this week. He is the youngest person in New Mexico to die from the virus. (Jim Thompson / Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

When Aedan Selph was 7 months old, he and his twin sister were taken out of the custody of the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department and brought into a large, loving family living on Albuquerque’s West Side.

Aedan had been born premature and was deprived of oxygen early on, causing his brain to swell and a host of other medical problems.

But, his older sister Evelyn Wolfe said, even though he couldn’t walk and he verbalized in different ways, he was the happiest little boy. He and his twin were the babies of the family.

“He laughed like nobody ever knew in the world,” Wolfe said, speaking on behalf of the family. “Like he would laugh and smile and that’s why I say, literally, he would just light up a room.”

Tuesday morning, at 12 years old, Aedan became the youngest New Mexican to succumb to COVID-19. There have been 1,302 deaths from the illness statewide.

Wolfe said she had been working from home and the family had been in strict lockdown but Aedan’s father – who is considered essential and works at a store – must have come into contact with someone at his job who had the virus. She said he and Aedan started feeling bad on Nov. 15 and by that afternoon they were in hospitals on both sides of town.

Aedan’s 66-year-old father remains in the Intensive Care Unit and is on oxygen, she said, and all together five members of the household tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The rest are in quarantine awaiting test results.

Aedan Selph, 12 (Courtesy of Evelyn Wolfe)

“My brother was special needs but this can happen to anybody…,” Wolfe said. “I just want people to realize how important it is to use the precautions. My dad, being an essential worker, he unknowingly brought it home because with his job he dealt with people. And a lot of people don’t take it as seriously as it needs to be taken – and it needs to be taken seriously.”

The way Wolfe, 31, describes it, the household is like “one happy Partridge family” with eight foster children adopted over the years, many of whom have medical conditions.

She said COVID hit like a whirlwind.

On Saturday, Aedan and his father were fine. But by Sunday morning they were both weak and Aedan was having seizures.

His mother called an ambulance for them both.

“He went in and they told us ‘he seemed to be doing a little bit better, you know, we’re going to keep him for observation for 10 days because he is medically fragile and everything,'” Wolfe said. “And then literally out of nowhere, my mom called me and told me, ‘Hey, you need to come to the house. They told us he’s probably not going to make it.’ ”

Aedan Selph, 12 (Courtesy of Evelyn Wolfe)

The news was devastating. Wolfe said her little brother’s left lung had completely collapsed and he was only able to use his right one. The family was given the option of keeping him on life support forever or making him comfortable and letting him go.

After much thought, they chose the latter option.

Wolfe said she and Aedan’s mother went to Presbyterian Hospital and – clad in protective equipment – they were able to visit Aedan for about an hour. The nurses were making him comfortable, removing the medical tubes delivering plasma antibodies to his body, and preparing for the worst when they left.

“And as we were walking out of the elevators to go home somebody came running down telling us, ‘Hey, he’s not going to make it,’ ” Wolfe said. “And me and my mom ran back upstairs and my mom was like, ‘You’ll get dressed faster than I will.’ ”

So Wolfe hurriedly got dressed – donning a protective gown, shield, gloves and mask – and entered the room.

“I went in there and said a prayer over him and held his hand in my hand while he took his last breath…,” she said, choking up. “I just didn’t want him to be alone. I knew it was coming. I just couldn’t let my little brother be alone. Nobody should be alone when that happens.”

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