‘Maybe She Could Still Be Here’: Kansas City Mom Died on Dream Trip to Africa After Catching Malaria, Family Says U.S. Embassy Didn’t Help ‘At All’:

A family is mourning after unexpectedly losing their matriarch after she got sick while on a trip to see a friend in West Africa. The Missouri woman contracted an acute case of malaria that despite being treated proved to be deadly.

The victim’s children believe the U.S. Embassy did not do everything it could to help, claiming workers took their time in responding and provided no assistance to get their mother home to doctors that could save her life.

Woman dies on dream trip to Africa
Latrice Clayton and family. PHOTO: COURTESY OF CRYSTAL CLAYTON

Latrice Clayton, 46, had wanted to visit the motherland for decades but never had the chance. She had a friend that lived in Abidjan and she wanted to visit. Her dreams came true last month when she set foot on the Ivory Coast on Tuesday, April 18, her daughter told People magazine.

After a day of being on the continent, she started to feel ill, her daughter Crystal Clayton states. She was taken to a medical professional who diagnosed her with malaria.

She had been infected by the debilitating parasite even though she was taking malaria pills and had received all of the mandatory vaccines before traveling. The Kansas City mother also registered with the U.S. Embassy in preparation for her trip.

The doctors treated her symptoms, but her body was not responding well. The mosquito-borne disease caused her blood pressure to go up, and even by the time she no longer had malaria, her pressure remained too high for her to catch an emergency commercial flight back to Missouri on Wednesday, April 24.

Crystal said she was desperate to get her mother home, but her health hindered her from taking the long flight. The mother went to a different clinic and was tested and treated again. Still, her blood pressure was an issue.

The blood pressure was not the only issue, according to the family, “Because she was from the United States the hospital would not take her medical insurance, so she could not receive the proper care and medication she needed.”

Latrice would eventually have a stroke and was bleeding on the brain. The family thought about trying to transport her to the United States, where she could be treated with state-of-the-art technology, but an air ambulance would have been too expensive. The daughter said just to get her back would have run the family $200,000.

Crystal wonders why the Embassy didn’t step in to assist her mother in returning to the States, saying they “would not budge on the price.”

“The communication is horrible,” Crystal added, saying representatives did not keep normal hours and were not swift enough in their responses.

“So now I’m really hurt,” Crystal said. “It really seems like they don’t care at all — at all, and I feel like if they would’ve moved a little faster, maybe she would’ve, could still be here.”

The mom was left in a coma for two days following her stroke. The doctors then tried to alleviate the bleeding from her brain but were unsuccessful. She was brought out of the coma, but two days after that, she died on Saturday, April 27, half a world away from her family.

“It hurts, it hurts. I’m still young. I’m only 26 years old. I never thought I’d walk the day at this age without my mother, not right now,” Crystal said.

Her daughter, who says her mom was her best friend, says she is still trying to come to grips with the sudden loss. She is not the only one. Her four other siblings (three adults and one 7-year-old) and eight grandchildren are also struggling.

“We’re taking it hard. I feel like my mom is still on vacation and she just isn’t back home yet,” Crystal said.

“Our mom was like our best friend, all of us, literally,” daughter Daianna Mashak told local station Fox 4.

Since her mother’s untimely demise, Crystal has set up a GoFundMe with the plans to raise $16,000 to bring her mother’s body home and to pay the outstanding medical expenses. Since opening the crowdfunding page, the family surpassed their goal. With only 382 donors, they raised $21,673.

Mashak said the price tag to bring her mother home is over $15,000.

In addition to the transportation costs, the family must pay a $3,000 medical bill for their mom’s various doctor visits and more than $12,000 for professionals to prepare the body to be shipped back to her home state.

“We can’t even grieve because she’s not here,” Mashak said.

Back to top