By KTVT Staff | January 31, 2021 at 3:45 AM EST – Updated February 2 at 3:53 PM
FORT WORTH, Texas (KTVT) – A Texas family is mourning the loss of a 9-year-old boy to COVID-19 after he took a turn for the worse and died within 24 hours.
J.J. Boatman, 9, died at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, on Tuesday, Jan. 26. His family says the boy was known for his big bear hugs.
“He was a loving, caring little boy. Every time he would see you or any family member, he would run up and hug you,” said Gabriel Ayala, the boy’s uncle.
Just a few weeks before his death, J.J. celebrated his 9th birthday with tacos and cake.
“We never knew this was going to be his last birthday,” Ayala said.
The 9-year-old had asthma, but Ayala says he was still very active, always playing with his cousins or older sisters. In fact, the family says J.J. was running around and playing hours before his symptoms began.
“He was just running around and playing earlier that day, and by the nighttime, he was yelling and crying to his mom that he couldn’t breathe. His mom went over, and his face was blue already and his lips were blue,” Ayala said.
J.J.’s mom rushed him to the emergency room, and he was then flown to Cook Children’s. By the time he arrived, his lungs were filled with fluid. The 9-year-old’s heart gave out the next morning.
Doctors told the family J.J. died from complications related to COVID-19. Before he was hospitalized, no one knew the 9-year-old had the virus.
“She didn’t know that she was going to come home empty-handed without her son. It’s just hard, of course. That was her baby boy. That was her only son,” said Ayala of J.J.’s mother.
Ayala says J.J.’s story shows anyone can get COVID-19, and he hopes people continue to take the threat seriously, as his family grieves for the 9-year-old whose life was cut short.
“We’re going to miss his whole life. His life hadn’t even started,” Ayala said.
A GoFundMe set up for the family has raised more than $20,000.
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