More stories are emerging of health care workers lost on the frontlines of COVID-19.
A North Texas family is mourning the loss of a wife, mother and respiratory therapist affectionately called "The Breathing Lady" by some of her patients. Registered respiratory therapist Maisha Oni Muhammad-Brinkley was fiercely devoted to her husband, four children and her patients.
All of them.
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“She took care of a lot of homeless people that actually would speak to her when we would be out, close to that area,” husband Reginald Brinkley said. “They were like, 'that’s my friend. That’s ‘The Breathing Lady.’”
She worked 12-hour shifts in the emergency room and COVID unit at Medical City Dallas, assessing patients’ breathing, placing those struggling on a ventilator.
“September 10, she said she felt a little dizzy at work,” Brinkley said.
A coronavirus test came up positive two days later, he said.
Brinkley says he also contracted the virus but managed to recover after battling a 100-plus degree fever for more than two weeks.
His wife’s condition, however, worsened over time. She was hospitalized, unable to walk or breathe on her own, he said.
“She told me to take care of our babies and she said that she was trying to get well. She said, 'I promise you, Brink. I’m trying. I’m trying. I want to come home.'"
The respiratory therapist herself was then placed on a ventilator.
“During that time, she wrote letters to our children and to myself and she wanted for me to read it to our children at her memorial service,” he said.
She died on November 18. She was 43 years old.
Muhammad-Brinkley's husband of 24 years was at her side. She leaves behind four children ages: 23, 19, 17, and 14.
“She told me that I would be ok,” he said. “She told me not to cry.”
Muhammad-Brinkley is remembered for her compassionate heart and big smile.
“Even when we would take pictures, she would smile enough for me,” her husband said.
A spokesperson for Medical City Dallas gave NBC 5 the following statement.
“Maisha Oni Muhammad-Brinkley served as a registered respiratory therapist at Medical City Dallas for more than eight years in the respiratory care and emergency departments. Maisha's positive attitude, willingness to serve and caring spirit made a difference in the lives of her patients and colleagues. She will be remembered for her commitment to excellence and as a great mentor who trained many current respiratory therapists within Medical City Healthcare and across North Texas.”
Brinkley says his wife loved working at Medical City Dallas and considered it her second home. He hopes respiratory therapists get the recognition they deserve amid the ongoing health crisis.
“They don’t get recognized enough and at this time, they’re the most needed,” he said.
Brinkley made one more promise to his wife: “I told her, her sacrifice would never be forgotten, and I would never let her name go unmentioned."