‘She is still supposed to be here’: Manatee County teenager loses battle with COVID-19

Manatee County

PALMETTO, Fla. (WFLA) – Palmetto High School is mourning the loss of one of its students to COVID-19. Senior Aryana Santana died this week after battling coronavirus for several weeks.

“Aryana ended up going to Manatee (Memorial Hospital) and was then transferred to All Children’s. They had an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) there for her which is what she needed,” said Linda Benavides, Santana’s aunt.

Santana lost her battle with the virus and her family was called yesterday to say their goodbyes.

“She was only 17, she is still supposed to be here,” added Benavides.

The 17-year-old’s aunt told 8 On Your Side she was active with yearbook and JROTC.

Manatee County Schools released this statement: “Our prayers and thoughts are with the entire Santana family, their friends and loved ones, and with the students and staff at Palmetto High School.”

Benavides remembers her niece as someone who was always willing to help no matter what.

“Aryana she was always happy, lit up a room, always making everyone laugh. Anything you asked her to do, she never said no,” said Benavides.

The family is devastated by this loss, as they say Aryana had no pre-existing conditions. But they are grateful for the outpouring of love and support they have been receiving from the community.

“It’s hard. You hear stories about COVID and you just don’t think it’s going to hit your family and it’s hard for all of us,” added Benavides.

This weekend there is a fundraiser planned for Santana’s family. It is set to take place on Sunday, Sept. 26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., according to a Facebook post.

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