MY STORY | I’m only 25 but Covid has left me a widow and a single mom of two tiny children

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A pregnant Bianca with her son, Biaan, and her late husband, Tiaan. (PHOTO: Supplied)
A pregnant Bianca with her son, Biaan, and her late husband, Tiaan. (PHOTO: Supplied)

When Bianca van Staden of Modimolle in Limpopo met Tiaan (32) in 2014, they were smitten. They dated for a while before marrying and welcoming Biaan (22 months) and baby Diané, who is just 10 weeks old.

But Tiaan would never really get to know his daughter. Just five weeks after the little girl’s birth, he died of Covid-related symptoms.

READ MORE | MY STORY | ‘My late husband was Groote Schuur Hospital’s longest Covid ICU patient’

This is Bianca’s heartbreaking story.

family, tiaan van staden
Tiaan was a dedicated father who loved spending time with his little family. (PHOTO: Supplied)

“I buried my husband on 7 August after he spent eight days in hospital fighting Covid.It has been a painful and lonely time. He was a good husband and we had a beautiful marriage. 

We met on the night I went to fetch my dad from a pub. We started chatting and exchanged phone numbers and began texting each other. I just loved that he knew how to spell as most guys I know don’t know how to. He was so soft and nice. 

We were together for a little over five years when we got married in August 2019.  We enjoyed outdoor activities such as hunting, camping, swimming and fishing. When Biaan came along, he would join us on our adventures.

wedding, tiaan, bianca
Bianca and Tiaan on their wedding day. She says he was a gentle and calm and man. (PHOTO: Supplied)

In October last year I found out I was pregnant with Diané. We were excited when we found out we were having a girl – everything seemed so perfect. Like with my first birth, she was delivered via Caesarean under general anaesthesia as I had placenta previa, which is condition where the placenta covers all or part of the cervix. 

Tiaan never left my side in the operating theatre and he got to hold our daughter first on 17 June. He was so in love with that baby. He would run from my ward to where Diané was in the nursery just to make sure she was okay. One of the nurses told me he was over the moon. In those first two weeks after her birth, she would be so calm around him. He was so happy to have her. 

tiaan van staden, diané staden, father, daughter,
Tiaan was the first to hold Diané. He only got to spend a few weeks with her before he landed in hospital. (PHOTO: Supplied)

Soon after Diané’s birth, Tiaan developed a cough, body aches and a sore throat. He went for a Covid test and tested positive. At first, we didn’t think it would be that serious. He said, ‘Damn, Covid got me’. He was a very healthy man who hardly ever went to see a doctor. We have a home gym that he used. 

On 17 July he was admitted to Bela-Bela Phodiclinic because his oxygen levels were low but he remained positive. He was put on antibiotics, vitamins and oxygen. His oxygen went up to 94% but he couldn’t shake a fever. 

On 22 July he was transferred to Netcare Montana Hospital in Pretoria as the previous hospital sometimes ran out of oxygen. By that stage he had developed a viral lung infection. 

family, edited picture
The family never got to take a picture together. One of Bianca's friends edited her into this picture. (PHOTO: Supplied)

The next day he sent me a message telling me to say goodbye as he wasn’t going to make it. The hospital called me later and told me to come and calm him down as he was in a state. When I got there I was informed that on the previous day he had gotten up to use the loo. He turned purple after that and lost four-fifths of his lung capacity. He was put on high levels of oxygen and became very anxious. 

He seemed to improve a little after that – he was given a catheter, managed to eat a little and was feeling much better. But on the evening of 25 July he told me was struggling to breathe again. I received a call at around 2am informing me he had to be intubated. I went to see him and he was visibly struggling. It was terrible to see him like that – and that was the last time I saw him.

tiaan van staden, biaan van staden
Tiaan and Biaan enjoyed taking selfies together. (PHOTO: Supplied)

Sometime later a doctor called to tell me Tiaan’s lungs had collapsed and he’d passed away. I was devastated. I kept hoping for a miracle but it was not to be. Life has not been easy for me and the kids. We miss him terribly.

I’m also struggling to pay the bills. Tiaan was the breadwinner – he owned a tyre business that my father is now trying to manage. I stopped working last year so I could look after Biaan but I have just started a new accounting job now.

I’m also going for therapy, which is helping me to work through the grief. Diané is too young to have known her father, but I hope Biaan will remember the good times. His father was there for us and he was a good man.

Covid is a terrible killer that has no respect for anyone or anything. To those people who still don't take it seriously, please rethink. It can come to us all.”

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