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Arkansas mom dies from COVID-19 complications just weeks after giving birth

Katie Moran and her husband Joe have two kids, welcoming a baby girl born just weeks ago. Shortly after, Katie tested positive for COVID.

AUSTIN, Ark. — Throughout the pandemic, THV11 has tried our best to show the faces of COVID-19, and to show that the people who have passed away are much more than just a number.

For Ben Hawkins, it's hard to flip through the memories, but he's doing his best.

"Walk into a room and just brighten it up. Doesn't matter what, how dark a day it is, she brightened it up," he said. 

Hawkins is remembering his sister, Katie Moran. Her smile and her laugh are what stands out most to her older brother.

"She was right with us, you know, with our friends that we had," Hawkins said, trailing off. "'Hey, Bug coming with us?' Cause that was her name: called her Katie Bug."

Katie and her husband Joe have two kids, and welcomed a baby girl that was born just weeks ago. But not long after the pictures Hawkins is looking at were taken, Katie was back in the hospital.

Katie tested positive for COVID. No one knows where she got it from, but she's a frontline hero at Unity Health in Searcy.

"First scare for me was when we got told she was going to be intubated," Hawkins said.

On August 5th, Katie was transferred to a hospital in Memphis. The day before was one of the last times Ben saw his sister.

"Kissed her forehead, told her I love her, she pulled the mask off and said 'I love you too,'" Hawkins said, holding back tears. "Then I had to leave the room."

Katie beat COVID-19, but the after effects were too much to handle. She died at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

One of the last things Ben and Joe wanted to do was show her a scrapbook filled with family photos – a way to cheer her up.

"Even though we wasn't right there in the room, her family was still a huge part," Hawkins said. "And then she could just have us with, and unfortunately, we weren't able to get it up there in time."

It's hard to flip through the memories, but Hawkins said it's easier knowing that Katie is at peace.

"She is upstairs right now, probably laughing at us for crying and everything else, just cause of who she was," he said.

So Hawkins isn't stopping to pause on the sad memories – it's not what Katie would have wanted.

"I just love her more than anything, and just want to thank her for everything she's given to us," he said. "Continue Katie's work. It's what she was put on this Earth to do, is to take care of others, and we're going to continue. We're going to continue her work somehow."

Hawkins said that work starts now. There's a Facebook page, Katie Bugs Fight, where Ben would post updates for Katie's friends and families. 

He said anyone who needs family right now because they're going through something similar, is more than welcome to reach out and he'll be a shoulder to lean on as they work through this together.