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Power Outtage Kills Young Patient

October 30, 1997

LAKIN, Kan. (AP) _ For most 7-year-old girls, a blizzard means no school and fun in the snow.

For Kalana Calkins, though, it meant no power to the machine that helped her breath after heart and lung transplants three years ago, and no way for her parents to get her to the hospital, less than four miles away.

Kalana died in her aunt’s house on Sunday, despite the frantic efforts of her father _ an emergency medical technician _ to revive her.

About an hour later, an ambulance finally made it across a snowy field and 50 mph winds to the house.

As this small, western Kansas town digs out from under the weekend snowstorm that dumped a foot of snow, residents are mourning a little girl they fought long and hard to help.

When she needed transplant surgery Los Angeles Children’s Hospital in 1994, they helped raise money. Sunday, they then sent snowmobiles, bulldozers and other rescue vehicles during the snowstorm.

They will be at her funeral Saturday to say goodbye.

``Everybody around here is really sad that this happened, but it’s turning into a celebration of her life, too,″ said Lori Heman, a close friend of Kalana’s parents, Peggy and Roger Calkins.

``Despite her problems, she was just like any little girl.″

Kalana’s organs had been ravaged by disease since birth, and she waited more than a year for a suitable donor.

``When she was born they told us to take her home and let her die,″ her father said.

But Kalana was healthy after the transplants _ until recently, when her body began rejecting the organs. Her condition worsened as the blizzard settled in last weekend.

After the power went out at the Calkins’ home, three miles outside of Lakin, the family began a desperate effort to transport Kalana to Kearny County Hospital.

While trying to get to the highway Saturday morning, the Calkins’ four-wheel-drive got stuck in thick mud and snow. They managed to return home and call for help. With the house cold from no power, they sat in the heated car and waited.

With his daughter’s situation worsening, Calkins and a friend wrapped Kalana in a blanket and headed through the snow to the nearby home of Kalana’s aunt, Tracy Manly.

Kalana’s condition was deteriorating.

``She told her parents she was glad they were her best friends,″ Ms. Manly said.

Sunday morning, Kalana told her dad she needed to go the bathroom.

``She just laid down and died,″ he said.

Calkins believes his daughter would be alive if not for the blizzard. But he didn’t expect her to live much longer.

``We tried everything that man can offer to keep her alive, and then Mother Nature came out and said, `That’s enough,‴ Calkins said. ``And only God controls Mother Nature.″

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