Coronavirus devastating families in southwest Ohio: 3 stories of personal impact

Phil Driscoll, 72, an accomplished trumpet player, has recovered from COVID-19, according to his wife, Darlene Bishop Driscoll.
Phil Driscoll, 72, an accomplished trumpet player, has recovered from COVID-19, according to his wife, Darlene Bishop Driscoll.

We’ve seen the impact the coronavirus has on families as they deal with loved one diagnosed with COVID-19.

In three cases that illustrate the power of the disease, two Fairfield sisters died less than one month apart; the husband of a Monroe pastor nearly died from the coronavirus; and the mother of a Middletown 9-year-old girl is “waiting for a miracle.”

‘We have been in the storm of out life’

Phil Driscoll, married to Darlene Bishop Driscoll, pastor of Solid Rock Church in Monroe, is expected to attend church tonight after recovering from the coronavirus, his wife said.

ExploreSolid Rock pastor’s husband fought COVID-19: ‘We have been in the storm of our life'

“This has been the hardest two weeks of my life,” she told the congregation Sunday during an emotional 45-minute sermon. “We have been in the storm of our life.”

Driscoll, 72, an accomplished musician, married Bishop two years ago. Her first husband, Lawrence Bishop, died in 2012.

She said Driscoll thought he had kidney stones until he tested positive for COVID-19. She said he was in “such a weak state” that he was hospitalized. The congregation held a prayer service for him on Aug. 10.

Two days later, she said, doctors called from the hospital and asked, “Can you come get him out?”

On Sunday, her husband was home watching the sermon live on Facebook and was “starting to get fat again,” she said with a smile.

“Storms don’t last,” she told the congregation. “But we all have to go through storms. I never thought in my lifetime I’d face a storm like I just went through.”

Dorielis Reyes, 9, a fourth-grader at Wildwood Elementary School in Middletown, is battling for her life. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Dorielis Reyes, 9, a fourth-grader at Wildwood Elementary School in Middletown, is battling for her life. SUBMITTED PHOTO

‘Waiting for a miracle'

As her fourth-grade classmates at Wildwood Elementary School in Middletown prepare to take on-line classes, Dorielis Reyes, 9, fought for her life.

Her mother, Doranny Paula, said doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital have said her daughter is in the “process of dying.”

Then on Wednesday, after spending parts of four months in the hospital, Dorielis died, according to the district. Additional counselors are at the school today meeting with staff and students if needed, the district said.

In an email, her mother wrote: “Hi everyone I just want to tell dorielis passed away thank you for all your help.”

ExploreMother of coronavirus-positive 9-year-old girl ‘waiting for a miracle’ in medical mystery

Last week, during a phone interview, Paula said: “It’s so hard. You never expect your kid, so young, to get this sick.”

The mother could be heard crying over the phone.

“Waiting for a miracle,” she said. “She could die at any moment.”

The last three months — since her daughter, the oldest of her five children, was admitted into the hospital on May 19 — have been a blur for Paula, 31, who moved from Maryland to Middletown in 2014 to be with her aunt.

After Dorielis complained the left side of her body was weak and she was having trouble walking, she was taken to the hospital. She was tested for COVID-19 and it was positive, her mother said.

Then an MRI showed inflammation on the brain. She was treated for possible multiple sclerosis, but the medications had no effect, her mother said.

Another biopsy was performed on June 19 and that showed Dorielis had vasculitis, inflammation of the blood vessels that occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the blood vessel.

After receiving treatments, Dorielis began moving her left arm that had been paralyzed. But another MRI revealed the inflammation in her brain continued growing. She suffered from severe headaches, had an epileptic seizure on July 19 and was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit.

The Middletown community has responded to the needs of the family. Days after Paula established a GoFundMe account, her $19,000 goal was exceeded by $4,000 through more than 400 donations.

Pictured in this 2006 photo are Brenda Harmon, left, and Donna Newton, right, sisters who contributed to various Fairfield civic organizations over the years. They died a month apart due to complications of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, as well as underlying health issues. PROVIDED/HARMON FAMILY
Pictured in this 2006 photo are Brenda Harmon, left, and Donna Newton, right, sisters who contributed to various Fairfield civic organizations over the years. They died a month apart due to complications of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, as well as underlying health issues. PROVIDED/HARMON FAMILY

Credit: Provided

Credit: Provided

‘We’re really going to miss them'

Two Fairfield sisters, who had other health concerns, died from the coronavirus less than one month apart.

Brenda Harmon, died on June 23, two weeks after her 61st birthday;. her sister, Donna Newton, died on July 21. She was 58.

Christmas in July has been a long-standing tradition in the Harmon household, which included Donna, who moved in with her sister’s family years ago after losing a job. They would fill their home with Christmas cheer twice a year, complete with a small gift exchange with family and friends, said Brenda’s husband, Dale.

Part of their July celebration included a donation to the Fairfield Food Pantry, said their friend, Judy Dirksen.

“Any excuse to celebrate, they did,” said Dirksen, co-founder of the Fairfield Food Pantry and member with the sisters in the Fairfield Women’s Club. “They enjoyed family, they enjoyed friends, and they enjoyed celebrating and having a good time. That was their way.”

Brenda Harmon’s daughters — Laura Harmon, Rebekah Nether and Elizabeth Harmon — kept the tradition going this year, holding the annual gift exchange last month.

Brenda and Donna were born and raised in New Miami in a large family. They were two of 16 children.

Brenda, born on June 10, 1959, married Dale on April 25, 1981. Together they had their three daughters and a son, Tristan Harmon.

ExploreFamily grieves for Fairfield sisters who died a month apart after contracting coronavirus

Donna, born on March 11, 1962 and was never married with no children.

Dirksen said the sisters never hid their love for each other.

“I know that they were just very devoted to one another,” she said. “We’re really going to miss them.”