Birmingham woman raising 12 children after her sister unexpectedly died from COVID-19

Updated: Nov. 29, 2020 at 10:13 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Birmingham resident Francesca McCall is now taking care of 12 children, after losing her younger sister to COVID-19.

“It just seems like it’s not real,” McCall said. “We are just expecting her to come back.”

It’s been just over two months since McCall lost her younger sister, Chantale McCall, to COVID-19.

“She was in the healthcare field and she did all the precautions,” McCall said. “She wore the mask. She wore the gloves. She was very very careful, so we have no idea how she came into contact,” McCall said.

35-year-old Chantale tested positive for the virus and began having trouble breathing. She was transferred and put on a ventilator at UAB hospital, where she died less than two weeks later.

“Doctors called us in to say our last goodbyes and I told her she didn’t have to worry,” McCall said. “I was going to make sure that I took care of her kids. I know that is what she would do for me.”

McCall said Chantale’s husband also passed away from COVID-19, two months after Chantale.

With seven of her own biological children and Chantale’s five children, Francesca is now a single mom of 12. She said the oldest child is 17 and the youngest is almost two.

“They have their days,” McCall said. “I don’t think it’s really hit them yet, so it’s just a process.”

“The kids are so smart and clever,” family friend Raven McDonald said. “They are so funny. Their ability to uplift each other and put a smile on each other’s face is just unmatched. The family is always caring, loving, and smiling.”

Francesca works from home now to help the kids with their virtual learning. She said it’s been tough, but she wouldn’t want her nieces and nephews to be anywhere else. She said her mother is helping her.

“We are just going to try to raise them to be the best that they can be,” McCall said.

Francesca said it’s been hard on her financially since losing her sister, but she plans to give the children the best holiday she can.

“I’m worried about it a little bit,” she said. “I just want it to be an extra special Christmas this year.”

McCall is urging others to be careful. She said she doesn’t want another family to suffer the loss of a sibling or parent.

“It is real,” she said. “It is serious and take the necessary precautions.”

McCall started a Go-Fund-Me to help get the family of 13 through the holiday season.

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