New Jersey lung transplant recipient who was vaccinated dies of rare breakthrough coronavirus case

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A New Jersey woman who received a lung transplant 11 years ago and was recently vaccinated against the coronavirus died last month from a rare breakthrough case, according to a report. 

Joan Barrows, 62, became seriously ill after she was exposed to the virus by an unvaccinated person and died on May 15 in the New York hospital where she received her transplant in 2010, reported. 

Breakthrough deaths of vaccinated people are extremely rare. Only 549 out of 144 million vaccinated Americans have died from the virus — 0.000004% — as of June 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but transplant patients are highly vulnerable and some have no antibodies to fight off the infection, the newspaper reported. 

Barrows’ brother, Jim Russo, called her the “glue who held us all together.”

 “She reminded me of others’ birthdays. She prepared almost every Christmas dinner, and a lot of other holiday meals,” he said. 

Her sister said after staying inside last year and missing celebrations and holidays, Barrows had many plans for after she was vaccinated, including driving to Florida to meet her newborn grandnephew. 

Since her death, Barrows’ family and friends say they see getting vaccinated as a person’s duty to protect others. 

“When I hear somebody doesn’t want to get vaccinated, my head comes off. She could have been alive today,” Barrows’ best friend, Karen McGuirl, said. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy mentioned Barrows in a briefing last week, saying her brother and sister had asked him to “remind everybody through Joan’s example of the vulnerability that some residents retain, even through vaccination, because of their longstanding medical conditions.” 

He added, “The time to get vaccinated is now,” the newspaper reported. In a tweet last week, the governor wrote, “May God bless Joan.” 

 Russo added, she “was so determined to survive [she] probably would have lived much longer.” 

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