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School Pays ‘Bubble Boy’ Tribute

August 13, 1989

THE WOODLANDS, Texas (AP) _ A new school is being named after David ″the bubble boy,″ the youngster unable to fight disease who died at the age of 12 after spending most of his life in a series of bubble-like sterile isolators.

David’s parents were joined Friday by relatives and officials of the Conroe Independent School District during ground-breaking ceremonies for David Elementary in this community north of Houston.

″He inspired all of us,″ said his mother, Carol Ann. ″I want students to be inspired by his experiences as well.″

David, who died 5 1/2 years ago, lived all but the last two weeks of his life in sealed, sterile surroundings. The news media throughout that time and since have upheld an agreement not to disclose his family’s last name.

School district Superintendent Richard Griffin said schools are rarely named after students, but David deserved it because his life typified ″the courage so important to the American character.″

David’s life will be remembered in a selection of material in a reading room of the school’s library, Griffin said. He said the school also will have an outdoor education center because district officials ″felt that would please David.″

David attended elementary school through the fifth grade in The Woodlands and developed a ″wonderful interest″ in education, his mother said.

He also had a keen interest in the outdoors and dreamed of ″running through the grass barefooted,″ she said.

″It’s fitting that the school would be here, in the forest,″ she said.

David’s isolation was needed to keep out germs because he was born with a condition known as severe combined immunodeficiency disease. About 30 to 50 children are born with this disorder in the United States each year, and they have little or no natural resistance to infections.

Doctors tried to construct his immune system by giving him healthy bone marrow, the source of disease-fighting blood cells, donated by his sister. The transplanted cells did not survive, but they apparently infected him with a common virus which caused runaway cancer of his white blood cells, and he died Feb. 22, 1984.

It was the first conclusive evidence of cancer developing in a human after infection by a virus, said Dr. William T. Shearer, David’s physician at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.

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