At Oakland Mills, DuBose in thoughts

Ex-Scorpions star listed in good condition after amputation of hands, feet


May 10, 2002|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

They asked for donations and they asked for prayers yesterday at Oakland Mills High School. Mostly, they asked visitors to think about former student Rayna DuBose, because they could think of little else.

DuBose, a freshman basketball player at Virginia Tech and a 2001 graduate of Oakland Mills, remained in good condition yesterday at the University of Virginia Medical Center, three days after she underwent amputation surgery of her hands and feet because of complications from meningitis.

"It's really been devastating to us all," said Oakland Mills physical education teacher Sam Singleton, a close friend of the DuBose family. "The kids at school are still really upset about it. No one can really fathom right now how something like this could happen."

DuBose, 18, was admitted to Montgomery Regional Hospital in Virginia on April 2 and received a diagnosis of meningoccal meningitis, a bacterial infection that leads to the inflammation of fluids surrounding the brain and spinal cord. She was eventually transferred to the University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville, where she spent three weeks in intensive care before being upgraded to fair condition.

However, according to Singleton, after nearly a month in bed, DuBose began to develop circulatory problems, and gangrene developed in her hands and feet. Doctors performed what they called a "bilateral amputation of the upper and lower extremities" on May 6.

"We made an announcement at school because almost no one knew about it until they read the paper," Singleton said. "A lot of kids were reading `bilateral amputation' in the paper and were worried it was her whole limbs. Luckily, that wasn't the case. Right now we're just saying prayers and keeping our thoughts with her family, hoping the best for Rayna."

At the Howard County Track Championships yesterday at the high school, the Scorpions' booster club set up a place for donations in the concession stand, and plans to give any money raised to the DuBose family to cover medical costs. On Wednesday, the fund collected $312, and yesterday, booster club member Jeff Pieplow said they raised $527 for a two-day total of $839.

"I think we're all just so stunned, because it seemed like Rayna was doing better, then suddenly you read that she had to have an amputation," Pieplow said. "It's just beyond anything you can imagine. But people from all over the county - black, white, old and young - have come up and given something, asking what they can do. A lot of people will buy a $1 hot dog, pay with a $20 and just ask us to keep the change."

In Blacksburg, the women's basketball team was still trying to deal with the enormity of the situation yesterday, as players left for home after the last day of final exams. Hokies assistant basketball coach Karen Lange said the team set up a video camera at a recent team banquet and allowed anyone - fans, players, coaches, administrators - to talk and say hello to DuBose, just to let her know she was in their thoughts.

"Anyone who's ever met Rayna will tell you that her smile just lights up a room," Lange said. "Her personality is so much fun, and she's so lively. We just wanted to let her know we were thinking about her ... We're dealing with it as well as you possibly can with something like this, but it's hard to put into words how tough it's been."

Hokies coach Bonnie Henrickson told USA Today that DuBose's room is filled with flowers and gifts from friends and family in Columbia and in the Virginia Tech community.

"We're going to get her back to Blacksburg, get her back to Tech," Henrickson told USA Today. "Her mother and father have been unbelievable, how strong and focused they've been for her. It's been very difficult for the family. Rayna's made tremendous strides, but what she and her family have been through, I'm not sure any of us could understand."

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