Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In memoriam Shareeka Hill

Some very sad news this morning. Shareeka Hill, a young woman who was on the transplant unit at MD Anderson while I was there and who suffered terribly from Graft Versus Host Disease, died last night at about 11:15 in the Critical Care Unit. She was 23, and there is a two-year-old son named Kamran (who now lives with Shareeka’s parents, Sherry and Roland Hill, in New Iberia, Louisiana). We were at MD Anderson for a followup visit on Monday, and when Anna went up to the Critical Care Unit to visit Shareeka and Sherry, she learned that Shareeka had requested an end to all life-support at 4:00 PM that afternoon, tired of the terrible pain and weakness she had endured for a year, perhaps more. Shareeka was an independent-minded, strong young woman, an honors student at LSU, with great ambitions for her son. Sherry and Roland are lovely, loving people. Our hearts break for them. Sherry says that now Shareeka can be with her grandparents, with Frank Jackson, and with Martin Cokes (sp?), another young man who died during the time Shareeka was undergoing treatment.

I can’t say more now. My heart is broken. She tried so hard. She almost made it—it wasn’t the leukemia that killed her: that was gone. It wasn’t even (directly) the GVHD which had withered her kidneys and destroyed the lining of her lungs. It was an infection that entered her body through her catheter and turned into a pneumonia she couldn’t, in her terribly weakened state, resist. She was so young.

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