Phoenix Desert Vista senior volleyball player Alex DePriest was in Kansas with her best friend over the weekend when she passed out and had to be flown to a Kansas City hospital on Saturday evening.
DePriest, 17, who was diagnosed at age 10 with Type 1 diabetes, never regained consciousness, her father said. In the end, she was put on life support before her organs were extracted to help others.
She was pronounced dead on Tuesday morning, 6:18 Arizona time.
Cary DePriest opened up about his daughter’s life and death on Friday, a day after Desert Vista’s boys volleyball team, a team on which DePriest served as a manger, played its first match since her death in honor of her.
He called his daughter active, who danced and played volleyball and “ate like a horse.”
“But she was getting thin,” he said. “There was no experience in my family or Cheryl’s (Alex’s mom) family of anybody being diabetic. She was starting to get frightfully thin. We took her to the doctor to see what the issue was. Her blood (level) was over 400.”
Cary said his daughter’s pancreas wasn’t producing enough insulin. DePriest was in the hospital for a week. She learned to check her blood levels and give herself injections during the day.
“It was a life-altering event for a 10-year-old to have to go through that,” Cary said. “It was a challenge. She became very mature at an older age because of what she went through, going through the (blood) checks, everything she had to go through, the life-sustaining she had to go to.”
The family explored the option of using a pump, but, because she was so active in volleyball, diving for balls (she had 303 digs during her senior season) on the floor, she would have had to detach the pump when she was playing, Cary said.
“She said, ‘No, I’m just going to keep doing the injections,”’ Cary said.
Last weekend, DePriest had gone to Kansas with Desert Vista volleyball teammate and fellow boys team manager Madi Garner, whose sister attended Benedictine College in Kansas. It was Garner who phoned Alex’s parents to inform them Alex had passed out.
Garner was visibly shaken during Thursday’s pregame ceremony, weeping as flowers were stacked on a chair on the Desert Vista bench.
During the pregame player introductions, captain Nick Heeres handed Garner white flower petals and hugged her before laying DePriest’s pink jersey No. 7 on the chair, kissing two fingers and pointing to the sky.