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Twin sisters on front lines of pandemic contracted COVID-19, but only one survived

An Iowa medical worker said she feels survivor’s guilt after her twin sister – who worked with her at the same hospital – also came down with COVID-19 but died of the illness, according to a report.

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Cynthia Racanati, 47, and her sister Michele, who lived together and worked at MercyOne in Oelwein, let their guard down recently after months of vigilance against the deadly disease, KGAN-TV reported.

“Her and I were doing a lot of things in the month of October,” Cynthia, a medical assistant in urgent care, told the news outlet.

“I was the first to come down with it — and it was really mild, cold symptoms. I had a headache and my eyes just felt very fatigued and tired,” she said.

But soon after, Michele and their brother Phil also contracted the virus.

“She was actually texting me, so I didn’t realize how bad she was doing till I got home, and she kept on saying how hard it was to breathe,” added Cynthia, who took her sister to the ER when her condition worsened.

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“She said that when she was sick that if she’d go back and do it over again, she wouldn’t have gone to like birthday parties and the Halloween celebrations and things that we had done,” she said.

Michele was soon transferred to MercyOne in Waterloo and then flown to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, where she was hooked up to an ECMO machine, which pumps blood to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back.

“They believe that she had a stroke while at MercyOne in Waterloo, and a blood clot broke off from her heart and went up through her carotid artery and stopped the flow of blood and oxygen to the entire left side of her brain,” Cynthia said.

The mother of three was later declared brain dead.

“Her son made the very difficult decision that she would have wanted,” Cynthia said, “which was to be taken off of life support and she passed within 10 minutes.”

The grief-stricken son, Tre Cyr, said: “Everybody just loved her — she was the best.”

Cynthia said the whole family has survivor’s guilt.

“And I wonder what I could have done differently, you know, if I insisted that she go to the ER at an earlier time,” she said.

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