ST. ANN, Mo. – On May 16, Erica Thompson told her family she wasn’t feeling too well. By May 22, she was hospitalized at St. Mary’s Hospital getting hooked up to a ventilator after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
Her mother, Kimberle Jones, says the next 50 days were gut-wrenching as she watched her only daughter lose her battle with the virus.
“She couldn’t breathe. She was just crying. She was in so much pain, and when I said goodbye, I could hardly look at her,” Jones said recalling the horrific memory of Thompson’s last day.
Jones said Thompson’s journey began when she complained of breathing problems early in 2021. Thompson and her brother, Antonio Jones, have had severe asthma since they were children.
Thompson was first admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital when she was initially diagnosed with COVID. When her symptoms continued to get worse, she went on ventilation.
Doctors recommended she be transferred to St. Louis University Hospital where she was connected to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine.
Despite new treatments, Thompson’s underlying health issues, a COVID diagnosis, and complications to her body from the ECMO machine became too much.
She died July 4, just 50 days after she was first admitted to the hospital. Thompson was 37 years old.
Thompson’s brother was one of the first to visit her on the day she died.
“Watching my baby sister lay in that hospital bed in so much pain just broke my heart,” Antonio Jones said.
He started crying as he remembered his sister telling him three times that she was going to die.
“I just want to be an advocate for people getting the vaccine,” Kimberle Jones said, “and be a voice for my daughter because I really do believe had she had the vaccine she would still be here with us.”
Kimberle Jones has interviewed with national media outlets since the passing of her daughter where she advocated for Millennials and Gen Zs to get vaccinated.
Her message was so impactful that the White House and the CDC reached out to her. They are interested in sending a camera crew to St. Louis to document her experience to share with the world.
Kimberle Jones is now taking care of Thompson’s three children ages 18, 12, and nine. She said after seeing what her daughter went through, she strongly influenced both teenage boys to get vaccinated before heading into this school year.
Kimberle and Antonio Jones say no family should have to experience the horror of burying a loved one too soon. Thompson’s funeral was held on July 23.
Not only did they lose a cherished member of their family, but they are also now taking on the financial burden of taking care of three children and paying for an unexpected funeral.
To help the Jones family through this time, there is an active GoFundMe page. The donations will go towards school supplies, clothes, and basic needs for Thompson’s three boys as well as helping the family with funeral expenses.