Ashley Ryanne Wall, 13, energetic patient at Hopkins

September 18, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Ashley Ryanne Wall had a smile and a glow that staff members at Johns Hopkins Children's Center's pediatric unit said radiated through the hospital's halls. She was lively and energetic and seldom at a loss for words.

During her many stays for leukemia treatment at the hospital, Ashely was more of a nurse's aide than a patient as she routinely visited other youngsters with life-threatening illnesses.

Ashley, 13, died Sept. 11 of complications from acute myelocytic leukemia at the University of North Carolina Hospital at Chapel Hill, where she had been treated since July.

"What made her special was her strength," said Shawna Hale, a child life specialist at the Hopkins pediatric unit. "Even until the very end, she was so excited about life. She never gave up."

Ashley, who lived in Odenton, was active in many hospital activities, including a medical play that helped her to understand and deal with her disease. She also participated in the American Cancer Society's Camp Sunrise in Glyndon and was active with the hospital's "Fashion Makes You Feel Better Show."

But she was known throughout the center mainly for her sense of humor, love of singing and upbeat personality.

In 1994, she was nominated as a Hopkins Telethon ambassador by her doctors and nurses. Because of illness, she was not able to attend the telethon, but was nominated and named ambassador the next year.

"Her personality was just fantastic. She had a loving personality," said Tammy Scott, one of Ashley's nurses. "Her goal was to get better. She wanted to get involved in everything at the hospital. She shared her experiences with the other patients, but never harped on the bad things."

A highlight of her life was when she turned 13 in April and celebrated at the hospital.

"She was just so excited to be a teen-ager. She was so happy to have the word 'teen' behind her age. That meant a lot to her," Ms. Scott said.

Ashley's leukemia was diagnosed in 1992 when she felt dizzy and had a fever after roller-skating. Her doctors determined that her white blood cell count was high, and within 72 hours she was a patient at Hopkins.

About six months after coming to Hopkins, she received a bone marrow transplant from her brother and a second transplant from him in 1994. She received a final transplant from an anonymous infant donor in July.

The procedure was deemed a success, and she was briefly in remission before her death.

"The inside was wracked with disease, but the outside was always put together," said Debbie Bangledorf, a friend. "She had a sparkle. There was something about her that just made her special."

During the 1995 telethon, Ashley could tell that everyone was tense while trying to ensure a successful show.

"But she'd come over and say, 'You look stressed,' and she'd give you a back rub," Ms. Bangledorf said. "That's the kind of person she was."

A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at the Upper Room Christian Center, 1350 Blair Drive in Odenton.

She is survived by her parents, Fred and Evelyn Wall of Odenton; two brothers, Jonathan Wall and Justin Wall, both of Odenton; her paternal grandmother, Marjorie Vinson of Capitol Heights; and her maternal grandparents, Edison and Annie Smith of Weldon, N.C.

Donations may be made to Children's Roads Recovery Inc., a nonprofit organization that assists families whose children have cancer and other life-threatening illnesses at 2113 Rockhaven Ave., Baltimore 21228.

Pub Date: 9/18/98

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