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Mother In Middle Of HIV Medication Fight Dies

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The story garnered worldwide attention, a young Minnesota mother's fight to get her son with HIV back.

Three years ago, Mower County removed baby Rico from his home after doctors worried his parents wouldn't give him his medication. His mom, Lindsey Nagel was taken off the same medication as a child and thrived. Lindsey died a few months ago. Her parents are sharing what happened for the first time.

Their sadness has been in the spotlight before. When they adopted their only child from Romania in 1990, Cheryl and Steve Nagel learned Lindsey had HIV.

"I would always say 'We'll get through this,'" Steve Nagel said.

She was put on powerful medication until severe side effects forced them to stop. Of 12 Minnesota children with HIV at that time, medical reports say Lindsey remained the sole survivor.

In 2012, Lindsey had a baby of her own. Mower County became involved when the family canceled two of Rico's doctor's appointments after he was born.

Lindsey Nagel and baby Rico
Lindsey Nagel and baby Rico (credit: CBS)

Two months later, they got Rico back but the county oversaw the case and Rico's care for more than the year and a half that followed.

"It was a real struggle for the last two and a half years," Steve Nagel said.

Lindsey got sick the following year, her family believes from all of the pressure and stress. She went back on HIV medication and fought through pneumonia and pancreatitis.

"This poor kid sat at the end of a hospital bed for literally seven months screaming, 'I can't do this anymore,'" Steve said.

Her immune system couldn't hold up to a bacterial infection. She died in August at the age of 24.

"Lindsey was my sole daughter and we were really close," Cheryl said.

In silence for months after losing the daughter, doctors once considered a miracle.

"There are positive things that are going to come out of it but we're going to need to give it more time," Cheryl said.

The Nagel's told WCCO this ordeal has cost them $150,000 just in court costs. They haven't been able to work for the last two years giving around the clock care first to Rico, then to Lindsey.

A spokesperson for Mower County said Child Protection couldn't comment on this case due to privacy laws.

Rico is now being cared for by his father who told WCCO he's doing well. Rico has been on HIV medication since he was born.

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