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10-Year-Old Chernobyl Victim Dies of Leukemia

September 7, 1993

MIAMI (AP) _ Dimitriy Stetsenko, a Ukrainian boy who sought cancer treatment in the West after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor meltdown, died of leukemia. He was 10.

Dimitriy died Thursday at the Children’s Cancer Caring Center at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital, said the Rev. Eugene Whitehouse of Central Baptist Church.

Dimitriy’s kidneys, liver and pancreas failed last week because of chemotherapy, Whitehouse said.

″He always liked life so much, no matter what treatment he was going through,″ said his mother, Elena Stetsenko. ″He was waiting for the end of his treatment.″

Dimitriy, lived in Miami two years and was a fourth-grader at Dunbar Elementary School, where he was in the gifted program.

He was 3 years old when the Chernobyl accident took place about 80 miles from his family’s home in Kiev.

Doctors diagnosed his leukemia three years later. He received treatment in West Germany for eight months. But when more extensive treatment was required, the family traveled to Canada, then to Miami.

Whitehouse, who baptized the family in the United States, is trying to help the Stetsenkos obtain refugee status.

He described Dimitriy ″as a very quiet young man, but if you engaged him in conversation, he’d always tell you how he was doing. He led a valiant struggle against the disease.″

Dimitriy’s father, Alexander, is a computer engineer who works as a pizza deliveryman. He repairs the cancer center’s computers for free to show his thanks. Mrs. Stetsenko is a teacher, but is unemployed.

So far, neither parent has suffered medical problems because of radiation exposure.

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