A woman who grew up in Squamish has made headlines and touched hearts across Canada, but she has no idea of the impact she is having.
Gillian McIntosh, 37, remains in an induced coma and on a ventilator in the hospital in Abbotsford, after contracting COVID-19 in her third trimester.
"Medical staff report that Gillian is fighting very hard," her husband Dave said in an email to The Chief.
McIntosh was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Nov. 6. The family is unsure of how she contracted it.
She was admitted to the hospital a few days later when she struggled to breathe.
By Nov. 10 she required a ventilator to help her breathe.
The couple's son was delivered healthy, by emergency caesarian section, at two days shy of 36 weeks. He remains in the neonatal intensive care unit to be monitored but is COVID-negative.
The family hopes the baby boy can be brought home later this week.
McIntosh was born and raised in Squamish and graduated from Howe Sound Secondary in 2001.
Preeti Ludu went to school and shared many classes throughout middle school and high school with McIntosh
“We had peer counselling class together at then Brackendale Secondary School, now Don Ross. She is caring, very soft-spoken and understanding — full of life person from what I recall,” Ludu told The Chief.
“We did not keep in touch after graduation as life gets the best of us all. It is so sad to see her in this current situation. Hope for her speedy recovery.”
McIntosh moved from Squamish to Langley in the early 2000s to attend college and work.
She was excited to be expecting her second child, her family says.
"Gillian always wanted to be a mom," her sister Emily Bullen told The Chief in an email.
The couple has a three-year-old daughter, Gemma.
Both father and daughter have tested negative for the virus, according to a GoFundMe page set up by a friend to support the young family.
"Every part of expecting her second child was exciting for her, as long as the baby was healthy. Since Gillian and Dave opted not to find out this baby's gender until delivery, all are praying for a quick recovery for Gillian so that Dave can introduce their son to his mother."
The family has a message for others regarding the seriousness of COVID-19 after McIntosh, who was healthy when she contracted the virus, has been hit so hard with it.
"Despite following all of the recommendations from our health authorities, our family has learned firsthand the cruel and unpredictable nature of COVID-19," Dave said.
"There are many things we do to help others and limit risks in our world. Things like stopping at crosswalks or not drinking and driving, or smoking in restaurants all impacts our freedoms, but we do them because they cost us little but can have a huge impact on someone else," he added.
"As a dad, my greatest hope is that my children grow up in a world where people are kind, thoughtful and considerate. Their mother is fighting for her life due to this virus that some folks think isn’t actually real. I can tell you that this virus is real, because I am trusting a team of medical professionals to keep my wife alive right now. I pray for her to return to health so she can meet her newborn son and that we don’t lose any member of our family to COVID-19."
The online campaign "Please help this family" has raised $65,000, as of Nov. 17, well above the $50,000 hoped for.
The family is grateful for both the care of mom and baby, and the outpouring of financial support.
"I’d like to extend my sincere thanks to the staff in the ICU and NICU for their outstanding care of my wife and son during these trying circumstances," he said. "Our family is also tremendously appreciative of the outpouring of support from the greater community during what has been a challenging time for all. Generosity and kindness has been extended from all over the country and we are very grateful."