Manatee County teen dies after battle with COVID-19

Posted at 7:03 PM, Sep 23, 2021

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — A Manatee County family is mourning the death of their 17-year-old daughter who passed away this week after a battle with COVID-19.

“I miss her. I miss my baby,” said Edwin Santana.


Aryana “Ary” Santana was a senior at Palmetto High School. Edwin and Maria Santana, her parents, say the whole family came down with COVID-19 but it hit Ary the hardest.

“Her oxygen levels were just not great. That’s why we took her to the hospital for the coughing, and she said her chest was hurting,” said Maria.

Ary’s parents say she developed pneumonia in both lungs and that doctors eventually had to put her on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). Her dad shared, however, that his daughter was improving.

“She was moving around, wasn’t able to speak because she had tubes in her mouth and all that, but she was able to move around, react somewhat,” said Edwin. “From there, it just got worse.”

Her parents say the teen spiked a fever and never got better. They say after 18 days in the hospital, Ary lost her battle with COVID-19 this week.

“It’s really hard to process,” said Edwin. “It’s only been three days, and [I] don’t wish it on nobody. We expected her to be home.”


At this time, the family wants to keep their daughter’s vaccination status private. The family said the 17-year-old could light up a room and was a friend to everyone.

“It’s weird how a 79-year-old, my dad, thank god that he’s alive, but compared to a 17-year-old, she’s never had any conditions, any prior conditions, underlying conditions, nothing,” said Edwin.

The family asks people to take COVID-19 seriously while they grieve a teen with a big heart who left a big hole behind.

“Hug their kids and tell them you love them because you never know,” said Edwin.

To support the Santana family, click here.

Manatee County Schools sent the following statement:

“Our prayers and thoughts are with the entire Santana family, their friends and loved ones, and with the students and staff at Palmetto High School.”