Entries in Student (3)


Boy Ordered to Transfer Schools for Carrying Cystic Fibrosis Gene

John Coletti/Getty Images(PALO ALTO, Calif.) -- A California middle school has asked that an 11-year-old boy be transferred elsewhere because he carries the gene for cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic disease that is not considered contagious.  His parents say they will take the issue to court.

School administrators told Colman Chadam he needed to transfer from Jordan Middle School in Palo Alto, Calif., because he was considered a risk to another student at the school who has the disease, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“Based on the advice of medical experts, this is the zero risk option, and most certainly helps our District deliver on its commitment to provide safe learning environments,” Charles Young, associate superintendent of education service at the Palo Alto Unified School District, said in a written statement to ABC News.

Colman’s parents are going to court to dispute the transfer, claiming their sixth grade son poses no threat to the school or other students.

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic lung disease characterized by uncontrollable buildup of mucus in the airways, digestive tract and pancreas.

An estimated 30,000 children and adults have cystic fibrosis, and 10 million more are carriers of the cystic fibrosis gene, according to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

While Colman may be at higher risk for lung infections, he poses no risk to children without cystic fibrosis or those who do not have the gene for the disease.  However, researchers say it may be risky for him to encounter someone who does have the disease.

Exposure can cause bacterial cross-contamination and a higher risk for infections among people who are carriers of the gene or who have the disease, according to a paper published in 2003 by Dr. Lisa Saiman, a professor of clinical pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

School administrators said the school already had a student with cystic fibrosis before Colman arrived.

Colman’s mother, Jennifer Chadam, told the San Francisco Chronicle that she listed Colman’s genetic condition on his school health form.  She said he has previously attended two other schools with children who have cystic fibrosis.

“They made this decision without seeing one medical record on my son,” Jennifer Chadam told the Chronicle.

According to Dr. John LiPuma, director of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Burkholderia cepacia Research Laboratory and Repository at the University of Michigan, there are many children who carry genes for a disease they will never go on to develop.

“Given this school’s strategy, they would need to reassign about 5 percent of their student body to another school,”  he said.

But Young said the administration said they are not willing to take chances.

“The harsh reality of a busy middle school campus, where students ranging in ages from 12 to 15 share a cafeteria, restrooms, the gym and locker room, a library and other settings, is that it might be virtually impossible to maintain a specified separation and sanitation protocols at all times,” Young wrote.

Carriers and children with cystic fibrosis can attend the same school as long as they are not placed in the same classroom or stay at least three feet away from each other, according to infection control guidelines from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

However, LiPuma said, with proper hygiene, it’s highly unlikely that any infection will occur, even if students come in close contact.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


School: HIV Student 'Health and Safety' Issue

Bananastock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- The Hershey, Pa., boarding school that denied an HIV-positive 13-year-old boy entry said Friday that the school's residential setting and the risk of sexual activity made the teen too much of a "threat."

The AIDS Law Project filed suit on behalf of the unidentified boy Wednesday in Philadelphia District Court, alleging that the Milton Hershey School violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which includes HIV in its scope.

"This young man is a motivated, intelligent kid who poses no health risk to other students, but is being denied an educational opportunity because of ignorance and fear about HIV and AIDS," said Ronda Goldfein, the boy's lawyer.

Connie McNamara, spokesperson for the Milton Hershey School, told ABC News the school carefully evaluated the situation and the needs of its 1,850 students which span from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade.

"We had to balance his rights and interests with our obligation to provide for the health and safety of other students," she said. "And this meets a direct threat."

McNamara knows well that coughing, hugging, and public restrooms won't cause someone to get HIV.

She said the school was most worried the boy would have sex -- if not now, at some point in his future years at the school, where students in groups of 10-12 live together in on-campus housing.

"Our kids are no different than teenagers anywhere else," she said. "Despite encouraging abstinence, we cannot be 100 percent certain our kids are not engaging in sexual activity."

Even making sure the boy and students were educated on how HIV is transmitted wasn't enough for the school to grant the teen admission.

The idea that anyone could be denied entry based on a disability is astounding, said Arthur Caplan, the Director of the Pennsylvania Center For Bioethics.

"This notion that you can't put him in residential housing at a school because he is a vector of death is a throwback to 1987 when people were worried you couldn't mainstream children in any school," he said. "It sets back what we know to be true about the disease."

Caplan suggested the school use this as a teaching opportunity to educate students about HIV.

Even the school seemed a bit conflicted during the application process. McNamara provided ABC News with a court document the school planned to file before the lawsuit, asking a judge to weigh in and make sure they were within the bounds of the law.

"We looked at the law and our unique program and made the best decision we could," she said. "Our heart goes out to this young man."

The Milton Hershey School was founded in 1909 by the chocolate magnate whose name it bears. The school was originally intended to house white male orphans but now has a diverse student body hailing from all over the United States. Students must come from low income families in order to be considered for admission.

Caplan said the case reminds him of Ryan White, the teenager who became the face of the AIDs virus in the 1980s after being kicked out of school for fear it would spread through everyday contact.

"I think they'll lose the lawsuit," he said. " So they better get ready to figure out how they're going to accept him."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Enlarged Heart Killed High School Basketball Star

Thomas Northcut/Lifesize(FENNVILLE, Mich.) -- The sound of the swoosh ended a thrilling season of basketball at Michigan's Fennville High School, but the victory turned tragic when 16-year-old star athlete Wes Leonard collapsed on the gym floor after shooting the winning basket.

According to Dr. David A Start, the forensic pathologist and medical examiner of Ottawa County, the cause of death was cardiac arrest due to dilated cardiomyopathy -- an enlarged heart -- a condition that often goes unnoticed.

Leonard's game-winning layup, which earned two of his 21 points that game, led the undefeated Fennville Blackhawks to a 57-55 win over Bridgman High School. Teammates hoisted in him the air moments before he collapsed.

"Nobody knew for sure why he had collapsed and was suddenly on the floor," said Tim Breed, a spokesperson for Holland Hospital who was also at the game.

Suspecting possible heat exhaustion, people tried to and cool Leonard down with ice packs while waiting for the ambulance. Paramedics performed CPR and took Leonard to a defibrillator on the court. He was rushed by ambulance to nearby Holland Hospital, where he died two hours later at 10:40 p.m.

What led to Leonard's condition, which prevents the heart from efficiently pumping blood to the rest of the body, is unknown. According to the National Institutes of health, risk factors include heart disease or a family history of it, high blood pressure, vitamin or mineral deficiency, infections involving the heart muscle, and the use of certain drugs or medications.

Thirty percent of dilated cardiomyopathy cases are inherited, according to Dr. Steven Fowler, a cardiac electrophysiologist at the Cardiovascular Genetics Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio