Ryan White Ryan White may not have lived a long life, but his life definitely made an impact on our nation and the world. Ryan faced a life full of discrimination and pain, but he learned how to overcome everything. Ryan Wayne Wright was born on December 6, 1971 in Kokomo, Indiana, to Jeanne Elaine Hale and Hubert Wayne White. Ryan was only 6 days old when doctors diagnosed him with a severe form of type A hemophilia. Hemophilia is a blood disease that causes the sufferer’s blood cannot clot and minor injuries can cause them to even bleed to death.
Because Ryan had hemophilia, he had to receive blood transfusions of Factor VIII, a product of blood that aids in clotting. Although Ryan had this severe disease, he could still go about his life as normal as possible. But everything changed for Ryan in December 1984. Ryan had become extremely sick with a case of pneumonia and had to be hospitalized. On December 17, 1984, Ryan had a partial lung removed surgery, but doctor’s found something even more shocking during the surgery. Ryan had acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS.
Doctors were stunned with this diagnosis ecause AIDS had only been discovered a few years before, therefore it was relatively new in the medical world. Doctors had only realized earlier that year that AIDS was actually caused by the infection of the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. Ryan had contracted HIV from one of his transfusions, because much of the pooled factor VIII concentrate supply was tainted because doctors did not know how to test for the disease, and donors did not know they were infected.
Among hemophiliacs being treated with transfusions, 90% of them were found to be infected with HIV. A normal uman’s T-cell count is at about 1,200, but at the time of diagnosis White’s had dropped down to 25 T-cells. After the diagnosis, Ryan was too sick to return to school, but when he was feeling better his mother asked school officials if he could come back. The school said no, so on June 30, 1985, she filed a formal complaint and was again denied by the school’s superintendent for Ryan’s return to school. The superintendent’s refusal ignited a legal battle that lasted for 8 months.
Almost half of the kid’s parents objected to Ryan attending school, which put more pressure for the administrators to keep Ryan out of chool. People mostly were against him coming back to school because they were very ignorant about what AIDS actually was back then, because it was such a new disease. But despite the school not wanting him to attend, on November 25, an Indiana Department of Education officer ruled that the school must follow the Indiana Board of Health guidelines and that White must be allowed to attend school. Ryan was only one of the 148 known cases of pediatric AIDS in the United States.
HIV and AIDS was still a mystery to doctors; all they really knew that it was spread hrough blood. Even though Ryan was allowed back at school, many parents still didn’t want him there because they feared that their children could cause it from Just coming in contact with him. Even an Indiana State health commissioner, Dr. Woodrow Myers, notified the school board that White posed no threat to other students because he had done a study which successfully stated that HIV and AIDS cannot be White finally returned to school in April, many families left the school and started their own independent school.
They still discriminated Ryan, and would even walk own the street and say “we know you’re queer. ” At the time AIDS was considered to be a “gay disease” because the spread of it was located in large cities known for their homosexual populations. White’s life was threatened, and even the newspaper, the Kokomo Tribute, was threatened because they supported the Whites. Ryan only attended school for his eighth grade year, 1986-1987, and left because he had almost no friends and the school refused to treat him like every other student. The school made him use his own disposable utensils and bathroom.
Threats continued from locals, and the Whites finally decided to leave Kokomo when a bullet fired through their living room. They moved to Cicero, Indiana in 1987, where he attended Hamilton Heights High School. He was welcomed there with open arms because people in Cicero were more educated about AIDS and how it was actually spread. Ryan’s disputes with his old school had captured national media attention. Between 1985 and 1987, news stories about AIDS had doubled, and the public was becoming more aware of what it really was and how it was actually spread.
White ecame known as the poster boy for AIDS because people had never seen someone like Ryan with AIDS. AIDS was usually associated to homosexuals, but Ryan put a new face on it. He was Just a normal teenager that had to battle with his disease. Not only did Ryan catch the attention of the media, but also of celebrities. Ryan caught some big stars’ attention such as Michal Jackson, Elton John, and John Mellencamp. He even met with the president, Ronald Reagan. These celebrities, and many more, were often seen with Ryan at AIDS fund-raisers and promotions.
They also gave him money and ifts, Even though Ryan got all of this publicity, he didn’t necessarily like it. White stated that he disliked the spotlight, hated that many people blamed his mother for his sickness, and said that he would trade all the attention to be free of his disease any day. Despite hating the attention, he still used his notoriety to speak for his disease. In 1988, White spoke in front of Reagan’s AIDS Administration, and said that education for the public of AIDS has made his life easier in his new town.
In 1989, ABC aired a movie about Ryan called the Ryan White Story, through this movie illions more people were able to hear about Ryan’s inspiring story. In 1990, things for Ryan took a turn for the worse. His health was rapidly deteriorating. On March 29, 1990, Ryan was hospitalized due to a respiratory infection. His condition worsened so he had to be sedated and put on a ventilator. One of his last visitors was Elton John. Ryan died on April 8, 1990, Just a couple months shy of graduating high school and his senior prom. Over 1,500 people attended his funeral, which included Elton John, football star Howie Long, and Phil