Another Fallon leukemia patient near death |

Another Fallon leukemia patient near death

FALLON, Nev. (AP) – The oldest patient in a leukemia cluster that has struck 14 children in this farming and military town is near death in a Philadelphia hospital, her father said.

Former Fallon resident Stephanie Sands, 21, was given last rites after being placed on life support due to a new round of complications last week, said Floyd Sands.

”She lost her blood pressure on Wednesday, and she has an infection, which led to septic shock. She is gravely, gravely ill,” he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Stephanie Sands lived in Fallon from 1992 to 1995 and spent summers here before 1992. She is one of 14 current or former residents who have been diagnosed with a form of childhood leukemia since 1997.

One young victim, 10-year-old Adam Jernee, died June 3 at a Southern California hospital after battling the disease for a year.

Sands, who had been living at home in Mehoopany, Pa., with her father and 3-year-old son until suffering a relapse earlier this year, was diagnosed two years ago with acute lymphocytic leukemia.

Health officials have said the form of the disease, which has struck all but one of the 14 children, normally occurs in about three out of every 100,000 children,

Only 25,000 people live in the Fallon area 60 miles east of Reno.

Federal health officials this month launched an investigation into the epidemic.

In May, Sands became one of the oldest patients to receive an umbilical cord stem cell transplant, and seemed to be improving until a stroke in June.

After her initial diagnosis at age 19, she spent a year undergoing treatments before the leukemia went into remission. It resurfaced earlier this year in her brain and spine.

Floyd Sands described his daughter as a fighter who’s determined to stay alive for her son.

”The doctors are shaking their heads because they can’t believe she is still alive,” he said. ”They keep expecting cardiac arrest.

”We’re not counting her out yet. We’re still not giving up.”

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