Las Cruces teenager, 19, dies after spending weeks in the hospital, then in hospice

Bethany Brunelle
Las Cruces Sun-News

LAS CRUCES - In early October, friends of a Las Cruces teenager gathered nightly in a parking lot across from her hospital room at MountainView Regional Medical Center for a prayer vigil. Lights from their cell phones, held high into the night sky, shown across the desert, glimmering with hope and prayers for the teenager's healing.

Khyana Sky Morales, who turned 19 while in the intensive care unit, died Saturday after being moved to long-term care and then into hospice. 

On Oct. 3, family members found Khyana unresponsive and took her to MountainView's emergency room. At the time, they didn't know how long she'd been without blood and oxygen to her brain. 

Khyana Sky Morales

After spending several weeks in the intensive care unit, Khyana's father, Manny Morales, said they transferred her to a long-term care facility. While there, Khyana was able to make progress in breathing on her own, but she wasn't improving neurologically. 

"They gave her a couple of weeks once they were able to get her off of the ventilator. They were then able to do more activities with her, but there was no progress," Manny told the Sun-News Tuesday. 

For multiple nights this week, friends and family of Khyana Sky Morales, 18, have gathered outside her Intensive Care Unit room and shown the lights of their phones in her direction, praying for her recovery.

Because of Khyana's lack of brain function, Manny said medical professionals gave them two options: she could come home or go into hospice care. 

Her family chose to place her in hospice. 

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"She was in hospice for two and a half, maybe three weeks, when she ended up rejecting the feedings. They adjusted the feedings, but she rejected those and passed away on Saturday," Manny said. 

Since her death, Manny said he and Khyana's mother, Marysol Verduzco, have stayed united, but it's been a roller coaster of emotions. 

Manny Morales bows his head in prayer Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, during a vigil in front of his daughter Khyana Sky Morales's intensive care unit room at MountainView Regional Medical Center.

"There are good minutes and bad minutes. Good hours and bad hours. Good days and bad days," he said. "We are still in disbelief. There are a lot of questions we want answered."

Manny said that Khyana always put others before herself, and that's how he wants people to remember her. 

"She would always look out for the greater good. Through this tragedy, something good will come out of this," he said.

Bethany Freudenthal can be reached at bfreudenthal@lcsun-news.com, 575-541-5449 or @bethanyfreuden1 on Twitter. 

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