WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) — Tatiana Moore’s family says the 22-year-old had a passion for helping others. The young woman worked at a before and after school program at Edison Elementary in Tonawanda, and dreamed of one day becoming a social worker.
“She was a free spirit, always worried about everybody else, and making sure everybody else was taken care of,” her mother, Lori Salvatore said.
Tatiana died on July 8 following a lengthy and difficult battle with COVID-19.
When the coronavirus first spread to Western New York, the Wheatfield family said they made sure they were taking every precaution possible in order to stay safe; wearing a mask, constantly washing their hands and only leaving the house when necessary. But that didn’t stop the young woman from getting infected.
“One day she said I just feel like staying in bed all day, then the next day she had a fever, the sore throat. By Wednesday we put her in the hospital before we knew,” Salvatore said.
First placed in St. Joseph’s Hospital in Cheektowaga, Tatiana was transferred to Mercy Hospital where she had to be put on a ventilator. Her mother says on top of dealing with COVID-19, Tatiana also had asthma and came down with double pneumonia leading to significant damage on her lungs.
Salvatore said her daughter was finally transferred to Cleveland Clinic in May, where she was on the list for a double-lung transplant.
But her sister, Madelyn Moore, said while Tatiana was a fighter, it seemed like with every good day, a bad day was always close behind.
“There was always just bumps in the road. Every time there was a good day, the next day would be horrible,” Madelyn said. “It was never just her steadily getting better.”
Her family says they don’t want Tatiana to just be another name on the list of COVID-19 deaths. They want people to hear her story and learn from it.
“I always said my child would never be a statistic, and then when she passed I said you know what, she’s a statistic now but she’s going to be a learning experience for other people,” Salvatore said. “To go through this nightmare and have people say this is a hoax and wearing a mask is not for everybody – I encourage people, you don’t want to go through what we went through the last 90-some days.”
“It’s so serious,” Madelyn said. “You need to open your eyes and see this is not a joke.”
Lori and Madelyn tell News 4 they’re now working to honor their daughter and sister, making sure they celebrate – not mourn – her life because that’s what she would have wanted.
“Some days I look at pictures of her and I say she’s not coming home,” Salvatore said through tears. “But then I have to turn that around and be strong for Madelyn and Madelyn is strong for me, and we know she is a beautiful angel in heaven so that gives us comfort.”
Marlee Tuskes is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.