Father of 12 dies of COVID in Texas after struggles finding ECMO machine, family says
A day after a woman publicly asked to help her husband find an ECMO machine to save his life, a Texas father died of COVID-19.
Reed Hickson, a 49-year-old College Station father of 12 children, died Monday. According to the New York Times, he is among the nearly 63,000 people who have died from the virus in Texas.
"My little brother Reed was called home last night, leaving a legacy of true love and greatness, his family of 12 beautiful children and great soulmates," said Samuel Hickson of his brother on Facebook on Tuesday.
Gina Robnett Hickson, Reed Hickson's 29-year-old wife, said Sunday he needed a hospital bed with ECMO capabilities.
ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, machines have limited availability in many parts of the country, McClatchy News reported. The machines act as a last resort against the virus, replacing the functions of the heart and lungs by sucking blood from the body, pushing it through an artificial lung that delivers oxygen to it, and then returning it to the heart.
“It stayed stable for a couple of days and then began to decline steadily. We had, I can't tell you how many people tried to save his life and tried to get an ECMO machine, a hospital that had a bed with one, ”Gina Robnett Hickson told KTBX.
The family friend, Dr. Andy Wilson told the TV station they looked to Arizona, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Florida to find the machine before he died on Monday. Only a few hospitals are equipped to transport ECMO equipment as they require specially trained teams of health workers, McClatchy News reported.
Reed Hickson's battle with COVID-19 began about a month ago and included a 10-day hospital stay and two additional admissions to the intensive care unit, his wife said. Most of the family caught the virus as well, but had mild forms, she told KTBX.
Putting the family patriarch on a ventilator "was his only chance to stay alive," the woman said on Facebook a day before his death. It is unclear whether the father was vaccinated.
Reed Hickson, a Texas A&M graduate who has worked at MHSC Energy for the past 10 years, leaves 12 children: Cayla, Mason, Leiah, Connor, Reece, Lily, Morgan, Lance, Chase, Hensley, Casen and Ryker, so a GoFundMe.
"I'll never forget that Gina brought Reed to our prom and we all thought they were real life Ken and Barbie," said Gina Hickson's best friend Kristi Deatherage Johnson. "Gina married him in the summer."
One of Reed Hickson's classmates remembered him as "a very kind person who always had big smiles for everyone".
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