Son’s death demonstrates need for diabetes testing

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By Sasha D. Robinson

Retired Counselor Gloria L. Jones and her husband, Jim Jones, who are both Type 2 diabetics, lost their son, Jibri Omari Jones, to Type 1 diabetes, or diabetic ketoacidosis.

Their daughter, Dr. Matari Jones Gunter, lecturer at Texas State University, who is also diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, wanted to share the experience to help others.

In an interview at the Jones’ residence April 4, the family talked about the loss of Jibri Jones Nov. 22 at age 37 and how a simple blood test could have saved his life.

Jibri did not have any symptoms of being diabetic.

“We want everyone to know that knowledge is power,” said Gunter, a former public relations director at St. Philip’s College. “We want to share it with everyone so it would not happen to everyone else.”

The family asks everyone to get their blood sugar checked and for men to go to the doctor once a year for an annual physical.

“If we can share that with friends and family to let them know that this is what we learned from this, then we feel we did Jibri right, and his death was not in vain,” Gunter said.

Jibri Jones, who lived in Austin, was to come home for Thanksgiving, but the family could not reach him the weekend before.

When Gloria Jones called her son, he did not answer the phone.

“We called Friday and Saturday,” Gloria Jones said. “There was no answer and went straight to voicemail.”

The family then called the apartment complex where he lived, but was told the family would need to call the Austin Police Department to perform a welfare check. Police found him deceased Nov. 22.

An autopsy came back negative for alcohol or drugs, but the toxicology report confirmed he had DKA or Type 1 diabetes.

Jibri Jones went home from work Nov. 17 because he was not feeling well.

“The hardest part dealing with it, was that he died alone,” Gloria Jones said.

According to, DKA is a serious condition that can lead to a diabetic coma sleep-like state.

It can be caused by hyperglycemia.

DKA usually develops slowly but when vomiting occurs, this life-threatening condition can develop in hours.

DKA is dangerous and serious, and if people find any symptoms, they should contact a health care provider immediately or go to the nearest emergency room, according to the American Diabetes Association.

When cells do not get the glucose they need for energy, the body begins to burn fat for energy, which produces ketones.

“If you love somebody, tell them,” Jones said.

“Don’t think they will be here tomorrow or think they will be there next week. No matter who it is going to be — friend, children, church member, just tell them.”

Gunter misses her brother but is grateful he lived a full life.

“When a friend of mine was murdered when I was in college, someone said the born day and the death day is one thing,” she said.

“It is in between the dash that tells the story. Jibri lived a full life. He went to Belize, swam with the dolphins. He met Stan Lee, Danny Glover, and the cast of The original ‘Star Trek’ besides William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. He met his heroes and that is awesome,” she said.

“Jibri is in the best movie theater in the world, sitting next to the best filmmaker having the best space adventure of a life time,” Gunter said.


Early symptoms of diabetes:

• Thirst or a very dry mouth

• Frequent urination

• High blood glucose, the main sugar found in the blood and the body’s main source of energy

• High levels of ketones in the urine

• Constantly feeling tired

• Dry or flushed skin, nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain

• Difficulty breathing

• Fruity odor on breath

• A hard time paying attention or confusion

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  1. Dear Sasha,
    It was so hard to read this. It seems real all over again. Thank you for trying to help and share awareness.
    I will not feel like my brother’s untimely death was in vain since we are trying to inform people to get their blood sugar checked and visit the doctor once a year for a physical.
    Thank you for sharing our experience, even though it is a painful one.

    • Debbie Healy on

      This story breaks my heart! I came very close to losing my own son to DKA when he was diagnosed with T1D. Now I help raise awareness of this disease in an effort to prevent DKA and save lives. Please see the hyperlink. It gives information about out campaign.

  2. Thank you for sharing. My deepest condolences. Awareness to the symptoms and testing is something our group has been working for with Senator Richard Roth in California. Unfortunately Legislators cannot mandate how doctors run their practice. Continued awareness to this life-threatening disease is needed. EASE T1D is striving for testing to be done. It’s not always a “simple virus.”

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