March 11, 2010, 10:00 PM
How can a 21-year-old woman die from a massive heart attack? That's what a Sioux Falls family is still struggling with as they try to make sense of Sydney Jones' untimely death. The former O'Gorman student was suppose to graduate from Creighton University this spring, but unexpectedly died in February from a blood clot.
Sydney was like a lot of 21 year olds. She had a beautiful smile, enjoyed being with lots of friends and was full of life. But last February, Sydney didn't feel well, so she called her mother from college.
"I said, 'So, go to the clinic.' So she went to the clinic and said her lower back was hurting," Sydney's mother Mary Jones said.
Mary told her daughter to come home for the weekend so she could be seen by doctors in Sioux Falls. X-rays didn't show anything wrong, so they told her if she was still hurting in a few days to come back for an MRI. But her mom didn't want to wait that long.
"So on Sunday I said, 'You're not better. Why don't you stay?' She said, 'Mom, I can't. I have too much homework to do. I have to go back,' so she went back," Mary said.
Monday while walking across campus, Sydney collapsed.
"When they first called, the guy who got a hold of me said she had fallen down and she's been taken to the hospital," Sydney's father Troy Jones said.
Sydney, who went into cardiac arrest, was in serious trouble. Doctors performed CPR and hooked her up to a ventilator.
"They tried to take her off that and her heart wasn't strong enough, so we put her back on it and the doctor came over and told us how serious this was," Troy said. "Ah, first of all the doctor came to us and said he didn't expect her to make it through the night. She had sustained serious damage to her heart, serious damage potentially to her internal organs so he told us not to go anywhere."
For two days, while Sydney clung to life, her family clung to hope.
"I made it very clear to everybody who came in there, we didn't care how Sydney came back to us, we wanted her back," Troy said.
Three days after collapsing, Sydney died. The official cause was Sydney had suffered a pulmonary embolism where a blood clot had traveled to an area near her lungs.
"I kind of didn't believe it at first," sister McKenzie Jones said.
Like most families, Sydney had a close bond with her siblings. For them, understanding why has been difficult.
"There's times it's really hard and I can't escape the thought of seeing her in the hospital or talking to her on the phone or going to stay with her in Omaha, but I'm trying," McKenzie said.
"There's a lot of emptiness. There's a lot of loneliness that can't be filled because she filled that spot and she gave me an unconditional kind of love that really, it's different than what my husband gives or children give me and I'm going to miss that," sister Becky Greble said.
"I'm a cheerleader at Augie and so I think I'm going to miss her coming to games because she would always cheer really loud and I could always call her and get boy or friend advice because it was easier because she was only three years older than me. That's probably what I'm going to miss the most," McKenzie said.
"When I think about her, I think about her walking toward you with this big smile ready to speak to you, ready to hear what you had to say, just wanting to hear about you because she always wanted people to feel loved. She did that very well," Becky said.
And the love Sydney shared with those who were close to her will never be forgotten.
"The whole support from St. Lamberts community, the Sioux Falls community and the O'Gorman community has been amazing. They haven't stopped bringing food, they haven't stopped calling. We get calls from everybody virtually everyday and that is a tribute to Sydney," Troy said.
Sydney would have graduated from Creighton this May. The school has decided to give Sydney her degree in business posthumously and will read her name at graduation.
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