AIDS Patient Robert Ray Dies at 22
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ Robert Ray, one of three AIDS-exposed hemophiliac brothers who won a court battle to go to school 13 years ago only to be burned out of their home by an arsonist, died Friday. He was 22.
Ray, infected through contaminated blood products used to treat his hemophilia, died at All Children’s Hospital of complications from both diseases, the hospital said in a statement.
Ricky, Robert and Randy Ray gained widespread attention in 1986 when they were barred from attending class with other children in Arcadia in southwest Florida after their parents told school officials of their condition.
They returned to school under court order in 1987. Angry parents distributed petitions and sponsored rallies in a vain attempt to keep the boys out of regular classes, and days later, the Ray home was gutted in an arson fire.
The family moved to Sarasota, where the boys were welcomed by fellow students, although a few parents protested the transfer.
Their highly publicized plight paralleled that of another young hemophiliac AIDS patient, Ryan White, in Indiana. He died in 1990.
Robert’s older brother, Ricky, died of complications from AIDS in 1992. He was 15. The condition of the youngest brother, 21-year-old Randy, wasn’t immediately available Friday.
Robert, who had moved to southern Alabama, was hospitalized in Mobile, Ala., on Sept. 10, with a high fever and low blood pressure. He was transferred to St. Petersburg to be closer to Sarasota, where his parents, Louise and Clifford Ray, still live.
Ray had become engaged earlier this year, and he and his fiancee had postponed nuptials that had been planned for December.