ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ricky Ray, one of three hemophiliac brothers barred from attending school because they had the AIDS virus, died at home Sunday with his family at his bedside. He was 15.
'That was his request, that he wanted to die at home,' said Dr. Jerry Barbosa, who had treated Ricky.
'He personally asked me not to ever put him on a respirator. The whole family was at the bedside. They were more or less expecting it.'
Ricky, along with his brothers, 14-year-old Robert and 12-year-old Randy, are believed to have contracted AIDS through tainted blood transfusions. They gained national attention in 1986 when they were barred from attending school in their home town of Arcadia.
They finally began classes under a federal court order, but a week later an arsonist burned their house down.
Their parents, Clifford and Louise Ray, moved the family to Sarasota, where they attended public school classes in peace. No one was ever charged in the fire.
Ricky announced plans last year to marry his childhood sweetheart, but the marriage plans were put on hold because of Ricky's deteriorating health.
Ricky was admitted to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg in October, and was there most of November. His health improved enough for him to spend Thanksgiving with his famly in Orlando, but his condition deteriorated rapidly in recent days.
He had been semi-comatose for several days, and died about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, his doctor said.
While Ricky was at All Children's, he got a call from President-elect Bill Clinton, who offered words of encouragement and promised to do more to fight AIDS.
'I hope he does what he said about AIDS,' Ricky said afterward.
Ricky also gave an interview with Tampa television station WTVT while he was at All Children's. He allowed the camera to show him, weak, jaundiced and gasping for breath through an oxygen mask.
He said it did it so other teens could see what living with AIDS is really like.
'This is AIDS. This is what it does to you,' he said.
In addition to his parents, Clifford and Louise Ray, and his two brothers, Ricky is also survived by a younger sister, Candy, the only sibling who does not have the AIDS virus.