A married father of 12 from Texas has died a month into his battle of COVID-19, one day after his wife posted a desperate plea on Facebook asking for help with finding a special life support machine for him.
Reed Hickson, 49, from College Station, succumbed to the illness on Monday at St Joseph Health.
His family declined to say whether or not he had been vaccinated against COVID.
As of September 21, just over 50 per cent of Texas’ 29.1 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Reed Hickson, 49 (center), died on September 20, a month after contracting COVID along with the rest of his family. He is pictured above with his wife and their 12 children
Gina Hickson (center) said her husband fought for his life for a month
Gina Hickson broke down in tears, talking about having to tell her children that their father was dead. It is unclear whether Hickson had been vaccinated
The state’s rate of COVID transmission is 386 cases per 100,000 people.
‘The hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life was to come home and tell my babies that their daddy wasn’t coming home,’ Gina Hickson, Reed’s wife of 29 years, told the station KBTX through sobs.
According to the widow, her husband contracted COVID, along with the rest of the family, in August.
While the wife and children had a mild form of the illness, so much so that they initially did not even think it was COVID, the husband was soon hospitalized with breathing problems.
After undergoing a 10-day treatment, the dad-of-12 was released home to continue his recovery.
The couple had been married for 29 years (pictured on their wedding day) and raised their family in College Station, Texas
Over the course of his month-long battle with COVID, Reed had been hospitalized three days. He eventually ended up in the ICU
On September 19, Gina took to Facebook, asking for help with find a hospital bed for Reed with a high-level life support machine called ECMO
‘He got home he was doing great again,’ Gina recounted. ‘He was outside getting sun, feeling much better.’
But Reed was not out of the woods: within 20 days of testing positive for COVID, he would be hospitalized twice more, eventually ending up in the ICU.
‘I found myself having to face the harsh reality that putting Reed on a ventilator was his only chance to stay alive,’ his wife wrote in a Facebook post last week.
As Reed’s condition deteriorated, Gina took to social media, begging friends and strangers alike to help her find a bed for her husband in a hospital equipped with an ECMO machine.
ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The ECMO machine provides life support by taking on the functions of a patient’s heart and lungs: it drains the blood from the vein, adds the oxygen and removes the carbon dioxide, warms the blood and then pumps the blood through the body.
There has been a severe shortage of ECMO machines and technicians qualified to operate them during the pandemic.
Dr. Andy Wilson, a friend of Reed’s, said he and others were reaching out to hospitals as far away as Arizona, Oklahoma and Florida to try and secure an ECMO machine for the dying patient, but to no avail.
The family were unable to find help for Reed, resulting in his death on September 20
‘He fought and fought and fought and pleaded and begged to stay here with his family, I saw it, I watched it every day for a month straight,’ said Gina.
Reed Hickson leaves behind his wife and their 12 children: Cayla, Mason, Leiah, Connor, Reece, Lily, Morgan, Lance, Chase, Hensley, Casen, and Ryker.
Wilson has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with his late friend’s medical bills and funeral expenses.
‘We are all so incredibly heartbroken, and the void this family is experiencing is beyond description,’ he wrote.