Adeline “Addie” Fagan, MD, right, and her sister, Maureen Fagan, pose with a local youth during a global medicine outreach trip to Haiti. Adeline Fagan died of COVID-19 complications Sept. 19 at the age of 28 in Houston.

In Memoriam: Adeline ‘Addie’ Fagan, MD ’19

Published September 21, 2020

Adeline “Addie” Fagan, MD, a graduate of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences’ Class of 2019, died Sept. 19 due to COVID-19 complications. She was 28.

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She was just beginning her second year of residency in obstetrics and gynecology in Houston. In July, she had started a rotation in an emergency department at a COVID-19 hospital, when she became ill with COVID-19.

Adeline had been hospitalized since the second week in July, and had been on a ventilator and on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a specialized form of life support. 

On Sept. 18, after being removed from ECMO, and appearing, to family and friends, to be on the road to recovery, Adeline suddenly suffered a massive brain bleed and passed away in the early morning hours of Sept. 19.

Her father, Brant Fagan, wrote an online journal to keep family and friends updated on Adeline’s condition throughout her illness.

The infectious smile of Adeline “Addie” Fagan, MD, is ever present in this photograph from a global medicine outreach trip to Haiti.

Infectious Smile, Positive Attitude Remembered

Many members of the Jacobs School community reacted to the devastating news by remembering the Syracuse area native as a caring and compassionate physician.

“Addie decided on a career in obstetrics and gynecology fairly late in medical school, but once she made up her mind she was willing to do whatever it took to pursue her goal,” said Vanessa M. Barnabei, MD, PhD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and associate dean for faculty affairs. “She had an amazingly positive attitude and infectious smile and her passing will deprive thousands of women of her empathy and commitment to their health.”

“Adeline was a bright spot in an often-dark world, exuberantly joyful, humble, troubled by the woes of others, and determined to leave this world a better place through her outreach on many fronts,” said Dori R. Marshall, MD, associate dean and director of medical admissions and assistant professor of psychiatry.

“She learned hard work and dedication from her family. Her father would routinely drop everything to come for a weekend, or a week, and sit side-by-side with Adeline as she prepared for an exam,” she added. “She was grateful for her parents’ support, and it was her goal to pay that forward. For those of us who are heartbroken by this loss, I know we feel forever bettered by having known and loved Adeline.”

Charles M. Severin, MD, PhD, associate dean for student and academic affairs and associate professor of pathology and anatomical sciences, said he works with so many students in the gross anatomy lab and Offices of Medical Education that it is difficult to remember each and every one of them.

“But Adeline I remember. What I remember the most was when she would smile and you looked at her face, even her eyes were smiling,” he said.

Partook in Four Global Medicine Trips to Haiti

Adeline participated in four global medicine outreach trips to Haiti during her time at the Jacobs School and David M. Holmes, MD, clinical associate professor of family medicine and director of global health education, remembered her as “a wonderful person who really cared about people and the world.”

A medical school classmate of Adeline’s said “what I will remember most about Addie is her perseverance and her joy.”

“No matter how hard things were, she came in ready and with a smile on. After our first trip in Haiti, we came back and she had contracted chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that causes severe joint pains,” the classmate said.

“She hobbled around in pain for weeks, but was not deterred in the least. Instead, she kept talking about how much she loved the trip and wanted to go back (and she did three times, more than any other student in our class).”

Love of Music Embodied Her Heart and Soul

The classmate noted Addie also loved music and was the leader of the medical student acapella group.

“I also remember her dedication to her family. Medical school is so busy, and she lived two-plus hours from home, but she still managed to see her family weekly and talk to them daily,” the classmate said. “My heart breaks for them right now, I can’t imagine the pain they all are feeling.”

Adeline is survived by her parents and three sisters.

In his Sept. 19 online journal entry, Brant Fagan thanked people for their support and well wishes.

He added one simple request: “If you can do one thing, be an ‘Adeline’ in the world. Be passionate about helping others less fortunate, have a smile on your face, a laugh in your heart and a Disney tune on your lips.”

The family originally started a GoFundMe campaign to help fund medical and travel expenses.

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