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4:13 PM, Feb 27, 2020

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Parents of 5-year-old Skylar Herbert, 1st child to die from COVID-19, share her fight against virus

Posted at 11:10 AM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 23:23:29-05

(WXYZ) — It's been a year since COVID-19 first arrived in Michigan, and we're revisiting with a mom and dad, both first responders, who tragically lost their 5-year-old daughter to COVID-19.

Skylar Herbert was the first child in Michigan to die from the virus, when doctors here and around the world had no idea what it was or how to tackle treatment for a child.

As a 26-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department, LaVondria Herbert knows life can be stolen without warning, as does her husband, Ebbie Herbert, a veteran Detroit Firefighter. But these first responders, who put their lives on the line to save others, were up against an unknown silent killer when COVID-19 invaded their lives.

First, it attacked LaVondria.

"I had posted on Facebook that I had lost my taste and my smell," she said.

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But never did they imagine it would seep into the head of their baby girl, Skylar, a daughter who came as a surprise pregnancy for LaVondria at age 41.

"I just didn't think about her having COVID," she said.

It started on Friday, March 26 with a headache and her gut-wrenching cry.

A trip to the pediatrician and a positive test for strep throat would send Skylar home with med, but that excruciating headache would not let up.

By Monday, she would spend three days in the emergency room at Beaumont Children's Hospital on pain med.

Skylar's dad, Ebbie, was unable to breathe would head to the emergency room, with his wife and Skylar in the back seat.

"As I turned around, Skylar was having a seizure," LaVondria said.

Ebbie was sent home alone with pneumonia, and a spinal tap for Skylar followed her seizure.

Doctors told Skylar's parents it was encephalitis, like a bruising to the brain that would eventually go away.

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Skylar would receive antibiotics, hydroxychloroquine and remdezevir under care from nurses in the neo-natal intensive care unit.

A cat scan and MRI would reveal fluid on her brain. She lost her hearing, and as a precaution, Skylar would go on a ventilator on April 3.

Unable to leave Skylar's side, her husband would join her in the hospital room with their baby girl.

"We never thought she was going to pass away," Ebbie said.

Two weeks later, her condition plummeted, and doctors removed a portion of her skull to relieve pressure, but she died on April 19.

Family and strangers were so touched by Skylar, her image has been created by artists and children. Flowers lined her home going and despite the immense pain, the Herberts have no second guesses and believe doctors did everything humanly possible to save Skylar.

"From the beginning to the end everyone there, I have no regrets to Beaumont," they said.

Even the nurses refused to leave Skylar's side.

"They were just so sweet they stood with teddy bears right by her side, held me until she took her last breath," she said.

These first responders now use their voices in the community to encourage mask-wearing and to encourage people to get the vaccine.

The Herberts also donated Skylar's brain for more study, and now they're donating these teddy bears with Skylar's picture on it to hospitals across the country to bring comfort to other children.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.