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Juneau boy out of intensive care, community plans fund-raisers

Gibb regaining strength after spending summer in Seattle hospital

Posted: Friday, October 24, 2003

A Juneau boy who spent July, August and September in the intensive-care unit of Children's Hospital in Seattle is out of intensive care and regaining his strength, his mother said Thursday.

Andrew Gibb was admitted to intensive care at the hospital on June 29, when he was put on a blood bypass system to compensate for his collapsed lungs. He originally went to Seattle on June 15 because of a high fever that doctors thought might be related to his neutropenic condition, which is marked by a shortage of white blood cells.

"They still haven't diagnosed him with any known situation. He doesn't fit into any category," said Gibb's mother, Cheryle Rice.

She is living at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle while her husband, Doug Rice, and their children, Dylan and Emma, stay in Juneau.

Doctors have prescribed a bone marrow transplant. A donor has been identified, and a back-up donor is being sought while Gibb gains strength for the transplant.

"He's getting physical therapy and occupational therapy," Cheryle Rice said. "He has stood up and walked, and they're just trying to get him stronger."

Gibb, 15, planned to attend Juneau-Douglas High School this fall as a freshman. While at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School he was active in city baseball, football and ice hockey leagues. Doctors have not said when he will be able to return to Juneau, Rice said.

About eight Juneau residents have been involved in helping Gibb's family absorb some of the costs associated with his illness. Cheryle Rice, who works for Alaska Airlines, has met her insurance limit with the intensive-care expense. Gibb is now on Doug Rice's insurance, but the family doesn't know what coverage Gibb will have when that insurance runs out.

Family friends organized a skate party at the Treadwell Arena in September that raised about $1,000 and have accumulated another $500 in donations from individuals, said Susan Marthaller, who is spearheading the fund-raising efforts.

The group is hosting a chili feed for Sunday, including a silent auction for prizes donated by Wings of Alaska, Era Helicopters, the Rie Munoz Gallery, the Foggy Mountain Shop and the Nugget Alaskan Outfitters, Heritage Coffee, the Hangar on the Wharf and other local businesses.

The feed will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at Chapel by the Lake.

"I've just been really impressed with the businesses in this town and what they give," said Marthaller. "It's just wonderful - it makes you feel good about Juneau."

• Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.



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