Fifteen-year-old Christopher “C.J.” Gordon Jr. always put other people first and you rarely saw him “not smiling, ” his mother Renita Wright Gordon said Thursday night.
“I’ve never seen my baby be upset about anything,” Gordon said. “He was loving and caring.”
C.J. died at 5:56 a.m. Thursday morning in the intensive care unit of UK Healthcare’s Kentucky Children’s Hospital, where an ambulance took him on Sept. 12, his mother told the Herald-Leader. He was the first student in Fayette County public schools who died of COVID-19.
“UK pediatricians took care of my baby. The doctor cried with us today. He was heartbroken,” Gordon said. She said the medical staff caught a glimpse of her son’s personality before he was sedated and were immediately taken with him.
“They didn’t give up. They did everything. They had Plan A, Plan B and Plan C,” Gordon said.
Staff at The Learning Center, the school district program where C.J. attended, described him as a smart, sweet kid who made the classroom a better place.
As of Monday, at least 1470 Fayette students have tested positive with COVID in the latest surge of cases this school year, with the Republican-led General Assembly giving school officials much less leeway to close school buildings to curb the virus.
The Herald-Leader reported Thursday that the number of coronavirus patients filling intensive care unit beds and breathing on ventilators in Kentucky has yet to plateau.
Only 130 adult ICU beds were open across Kentucky on Thursday. A total of 2,223 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 625 are in an ICU and 424 are on a ventilator. Twenty-one children are hospitalized with the virus, eight are in an ICU and five are on a ventilator.
Gordon said she and her son both began to show signs of COVID around Sept. 1. She doesn’t know who got it first or where they got it, only that she had been as careful as possible and they always wore masks. Other than being overweight, C.J. hadn’t been diagnosed with a specific pre-existing condition.
They quarantined at home together. C.J. was winded when he walked down the stairs, though he otherwise fared well at first. Gordon said the coronavirus left her exhausted, but it was her son’s condition that rapidly declined on Sept. 12. She called an ambulance when he fell back slowly on her bed and had difficulty talking.
C.J. was sedated and placed on a ventilator soon after arriving at the hospital.
Gordon was still in quarantine so at first C.J.’s father went to the hospital to be with him. Doctors told her he was a very sick boy, with a low oxygen level.
When Gordon recovered from COVID, she stayed by his side at the hospital.
C.J. appeared to improve at times in the last 10 days, but he never truly rallied.
Gordon said she did not force him to get the COVID vaccine because he wasn’t ready to take it, and “it was new to everybody.” Gordon said she will get vaccinated now.
Gordon said her son, a sophomore, loved UK football and basketball, and was especially a fan of UK basketball Coach John Calipari. C.J. played football for local city teams for several years. He was the baby of the family, doted on by his older siblings.
He loved his video games and he wanted to build his own computer. People were beginning to say that one day, he would make money from his computer skills. At school, he was building a reputation as a thoughtful, hard worker with a bright future.
“I had,” Gordon said, “an amazing child. I know he’s with God.”