Update: NBC 7 San Diego is sad to report Hector Villaseñor, 72, of Chula Vista, passed away from COVID-19 on Jan. 8 following a trip to Mexcio to visit his brother, who was dying from cancer. More on his story here.
A Chula Vista family's trip to Mexico to visit a dying relative took an unfortunate turn when several of them, including their 72-year-old grandfather, contracted COVID-19.
“It's very hard because as much as I can look my dad in the eyes and say that, you know, it's not worth it, it's not worth it for you to go, I can't ever convince him to not go see his brother who's on his last days," said Jerry Villaseñor.
The last month has been a difficult journey for Jerry Villaseñor's dad, Hector Villaseñor. The elder Villaseñor is described as a strong, hardworking man who's committed 50 years of his life to the hospitality industry in San Diego.
Last November, Hector Villaseñor was compelled to get on a plane to Mexico and say goodbye to his brother who was dying of cancer, Jerry Villaseñor said.
“A few days after he arrived, my uncle passed away, and then two days after that everybody started coming down with COVID in the house," Jerry Villaseñor said.
The symptoms of the disease were so severe for Hector Villaseñor's sister-in-law, who had an underlying condition, that she lost her life. It hasn't been easy for Hector Villaseñor either. The beloved grandfather is fighting in an ICU near Mexico City.
“It's one of those things, in a matter of days they lost my uncle who had cancer and then they unexpectedly lost my aunt who, even though she had an underlying condition, was in no way, shape or form considered to be in danger until she contracted COVID," Jerry Villaseñor said.
Thanks to family near Mexico City, Hector Villaseñor luckily was admitted to an ICU and was intubated. His family, some of whom are doctors nearby, are helping keep a watchful eye on his progress and sending daily updates. In the middle of Jerry Villaseñor's interview with NBC 7, he got the news that his father's breathing tube was removed.
“I can’t even talk. Wow, that’s great news,” he said after listening to the update.
It was a progress report his family has been praying for, and it brings Hecotr Villaseñor one step closer to coming back to his Chula Vista home.
“It definitely makes me think how lucky we are with the care he's got and it makes me think of how many people don't have that," explained Jerry Villaseñor. "Our goal is to raise money to buy things like oxygen concentrators because something as simple as just giving somebody the chance to breathe, to recover, is really just step one."
The Villaseñor family is collecting donations to help pay for medical expenses. They plan to donate any excess donations to pay for oxygen concentrators for other families in need.
“When my dad was incubated they told us that he had like less than a 10% chance of getting extubated or surviving and there you go," said Jerry Villaseñor. "He's not out of the woods yet from what it sounds, but that's a huge step."