Port Sydney resident dies of Covid-19 in Orangeville alone with his family isolated; "It's real"

Photo of John Braaksma courtesy of Brenda Stone Murdoch

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Agatha Farmer

Yesterday evening, Muskoka resident Brenda Stone Murdoch was informed that she had lost her brother-in-law to Covid-19. She tells the heartbreaking story to spread awareness about the seriousness of the virus.

"People need to know it's real," said Murdoch.

Her brother-in-law John Braaksma bought a house in Port Sydney two years ago, but was still employed in Orangeville. Murdoch recalls that Braaksma had been sick for about a week when he became more symptomatic. At the time he was not yet tested for Covid-19 as he thought he had a cold. On March 29, however, his daughter took him to Orangeville Hospital where he had to be admitted on oxygen.

The next day Braaksma texted his kids informing them not to go to his apartment as doctors thought he had Covid-19. The next day he was told he had a confirmed case of the virus and would be intubated, sedated and air lifted to Brampton hospital. Minutes before his intubation Braaksma phoned his wife, Murdoch's sister, in Port Sydney and in what would be one of their final conversations told her the news of his positive Covid-19 test.

"We would wait anxiously daily for updates from his very dedicated nurses and doctors in the ICU. He was mostly stable the first few days and they had the fever under control, by Thursday the fever was gone, then we were told it came back, low grade, we were sill praying daily for good results. The doctor said it would be a fight and we need to be patient as it would be another week of fighting. By Saturday they would do blood gas tests and turned him on his stomach all while being ventilated, to try and move the fluids. On Sunday we heard his heart was showing symptoms of the virus, later that day possible kidney problems. Our hearts were sicking, now the virus was attacking major organs, we were praying for a miracle, his family getting more frightful for his survival," Murdoch said "With little sleep, we were talking through the night looking for any positive information. On Monday, seven days later they were talking about kidney failure and Tuesday kidney dialysis. We had a glitter of hope yesterday then the worst news; he had flat lined while on dialysis, they brought him back, but then it happened again, they didn't get him back."

By 7 p.m. on Tuesday Murdoch said she received the heartbreaking news from her nephew that her brother-in-law had died.

"Not knowing what to do as I've been in isolation for three full weeks scared to go see my sister who lives 3 minutes away, not being able to give her a hug and cry tears together is the worst thing. Not to be able to console my nephew, we are a close family who are always there for each other except for now. My niece in Orangeville drove her dad to the hospital last week, so she is also isolated with her family. No social mourning in the community as there is no funeral scheduled right now, no gathering of the family to share stories of our experiences together, no hugging the grandchildren he left behind," she said.

Murdoch feels heartbroken for her family, her sister as well as Braaksma's 85 year old mother who had to be told "that she had lost her 64 year old healthy son to this virus."

Murdoch describes John Braaksma as kind, hard working, and a man who loved working in his community.


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