DEATH OF A CHILD

Now the sun wants to rise as brightly
as if nothing terrible had happened during the night.
The misfortune had happened only to me,
but the sun shines equally on everyone.

You must not enfold the night in you.
You must sink it in eternal light.
A little star went out in my tent!
Greetings to the joyful light of the world.

Comments

DEATH OF A CHILD — 6 Comments

  1. How very, very sad. I wonder why they weren’t able to find a bone marrow donor.

    Back in my school teaching days, I had a dear student, Stevie, who fought a very, very brave fight and then finally died of leukemia. It was devastating for all of us.

    May Shannon rest in peace and may all who loved and cared for her be comforted.

  2. Ellie — to answer your question, I remember seeing a news report about Shannon, and apparently it is VERY difficult to match bone marrow donors when the patient is bi-racial. Her family and doctors were putting out a call for more bi-racial donors to please come and be tested, as the chances of finding a match were very, very low. It is terribly sad. I wish we had a better system and way of publicizing the need for more folks to get tested as potential donors.

  3. This is a tragic consequence of past and current racism in American medicine – on average, American blacks are more distrustful of medicine, and specifically of non-black doctors, than American whites (see “Tuskegee experiment” observation of untreated syphilis after penicillin cure became available, “Mississippi appendectomy” involuntary and often undisclosed sterilization of women undergoing other abdominal surgery). American blacks are underrepresented in the nation’s physician population and greatly underrepresented in American academic medicine. It is thus more difficult to contact and then convince healthy American blacks to register as potential bone marrow donors than to do so for healthy American whites. Adequately close histocompatibility antigen matching is possible for the great majority of American whites, but some 50% (old number) of American blacks do not have matches in the current registered donor population, despite fairly frequent registration drives aimed at the black community.

    Every person has multiple histocompatibility antigens, and the antigens come in a wide range of “flavors”. Different genetic populations eg, Northern European-derived vs. West African-derived vs. Central American indigenous peoples vs. Han Chinese… have different frequencies of the histocompatibility antigens. Good matches are uncommon even among genetically uniform (long isolated) populations eg Iceland. For bone marrow transplant, a very close match is needed, otherwise the donor marrow lymphocytes (white cells providing immunity) start attacking the recipient’s cells. This condition is called “graft vs host disease”, can cause major gut mucosal sloughing and life-threatening diarrhea, skin sloughing, liver failure, and other problems if not controlled by immune suppression, and the immune suppression required can be at the HIV-AIDS level so the recipient is then subject to opportunistic infections.