Harrison County

Gulfport High students are neighbors in New Orleans hospital

Donny Faerber, 15, of Gulfport holds up a smile because his face became partially paralyzed during chemotherapy for leukemia.
Donny Faerber, 15, of Gulfport holds up a smile because his face became partially paralyzed during chemotherapy for leukemia.

Gulfport High School students Donny Faerber and Samantha Bell are next-door neighbors at Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, but they have not been able to visit.

Both teenagers have leukemia. Donny underwent a bone marrow transplant two weeks ago. His immune system is rebuilding, said Terry Robinson, Donny’s Sunday school teacher.

Robinson and Donny’s father, Clayton Faerber, are the only two visitors Donny is allowed. They must wear masks, gloves, gowns and booties. Donny also has a television set and computer for company.

The 15-year-old developed a rash Wednesday that could be a sign he is rejecting his donated bone marrow, which was not a perfect match. Robinson hopes the setback is temporary.

“It’s just hard, it’s very hard on a teenager to be that sick and isolated at the same time,” Robinson said. “But the good news is, if this works, he’s finished with it. He doesn’t have three remaining years of chemo to deal with. That’s the silver lining.”

Samantha, 14, is facing 2 1/2 more years of chemotherapy to keep the cancer from coming back, said her father, Anthony Bell. She developed a bacterial infection because her immune system is compromised, but her father hopes she will be able to come home Friday. She has been responding to treatment.

Samantha, a cheerleader, is being home-schooled for the ninth grade. But she has a date to the homecoming dance Oct. 22.

Donny, who was supposed to start 10th grade this year, is having a harder time keeping up with his studies. He’s been suffering from mouth sores, headaches and other side effects of treatment.

“We’re in contact with the doctors regularly and they’re optimistic,” Robinson said. “We take our cues from them.”

Donny’s family and friends are hoping he will be home for Christmas.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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