Sunnyside to host fundraiser in memory of Andrew Reese Friday nightby Andy Morales on Jan. 17, 2013, under Sports
Former Sunnyside, Globe, Pima and University of Arizona basketball coach Dwight Rees lost his only son to complications from Leukemia when the young man was just 19.
I am hardly qualified to write about Andrew or the infection that caused his death so I will let Andrew’s mother (Marjorie) explain the specifics of Clostridium Septicum from her open letter to the community on her web site dedicated to promoting, educating and researching the prevention and treatment of Clostridium septicum infections:
<<My 19 year old, funny, smart, talented and kind son, lost his life due to complications from bacteria called Clostridium septicum. Usually this organism can co-exist within the intestines and be kept in check by the immune system. Clostridium septicum, however, may overgrow in the colon when a person is immune suppressed, leading to the rupture and spread of the toxin this bacteria produces throughout the body.
Andrew was immune suppressed from the chemo he had received to treat leukemia when his intestines ruptured from this infection.
For 7 months Andrew fought off the attack of Clostridium septicum. Several times doctors believed that he was going to die, but Andrew kept fighting. He fought through 8 surgeries. Through the loss of parts of his intestines and stomach he kept fighting. With an ileostomy, and fed only through an IV, Andrew kept battling. The assault from the toxin produced by Clostridium septicum, however, had already done irreversible damage to his internal organs.
During most of this nightmare Andrew talked with his family, friends, doctors and nurses. He understood what was happening to his body. When he knew that his stomach and intestines could never heal he asked to come home. Within 2 days he died at home, surrounded by love from his tearful family and friends. Andrew was cancer free. He had beaten leukemia, but Clostridium septicum would not let him live to claim his victory.
My husband Dwight and I have formed Gut Check Clostridium Septicum Foundation, a tax-exempt non-profit foundation, to honor Andrew’s spirit. We do not want any other family to have to sit by a bed and watch their child die. Leukemia patients, colon cancer patients, diabetics, and many others who are immune suppressed are susceptible to this infection too few people know about and fewer understand.
Researchers, like Dr. Rod Tweeten from the University of Oklahoma and Dr. Glenn Songer from Iowa State University believe they can prevent Clostridium septicum by giving medicine along with the treatment for a patient’s primary disease. Some scientist and clinicians have made an impressive start, but they need your help to advance the research and get the medicine to the people whose lives it will save.
Our family had no idea that Andrew’s leukemia was not the biggest foe. Your donation will not only help fund necessary research, but you will help educate other families, physicians and the scientific community about this devastating infection.
Thank You for keeping Andrew’s fight alive.
First-year Sunnyside head coach Rob Harrison will be hosting a fundraiser Friday night in conjunction with their home game against Tucson High. All money raised from the game will be donated to the Gut Check Foundation. The game starts at 7 pm. $3 for students and $4 for adults.