Despina Siskos dies at 15

Faith-driven teen was waiting for a lung donor when she died

August 24, 2010|By Kate Smith, The Baltimore Sun

Despina Siskos, a faith-driven teenager who was home-schooled after becoming ill in 2008, died Aug. 17 while waiting for a lung donor at Philadelphia's Children's Hospital. The Rosedale resident was 15.

Ms. Siskos was diagnosed with nonspecific interstitial lung disease in 2008 and had been on the organ donor list since August 2009.

The daughter of a painter and a finance worker, Ms. Siskos was born in 1995 and raised in Rosedale. She attended Red House Run Elementary and Parkville Middle School.

She was a member of the National Junior Honors Society, won the Presidential Achievement Award in fifth grade, and was the valedictorian of her Greek school, an after-school program where she learned about Greek culture.

"She just loved to learn," said her aunt and godmother, Karen Kontoudis.

After being diagnosed in 2008, Ms. Siskos was home-schooled. Friends and family marveled over her unwavering faith and dedication to her religion. She was known to say in regard to her disease that "it happened for my faith and so that I could get closer to God."

The disease did not dim Ms. Siskos' outlook on life.

"She loved unconditionally," said Mrs. Kontoudis. "She just couldn't see the bad in people."

While on the organ donor list, Ms. Siskos developed empathy for others dealing with the long process. It was then that she decided that after her illness she wanted to work as an advocate for others in her position.

During the eulogy for Ms. Siskos, it was mentioned that she "felt horrible for the donor" and "especially bad for those who may not receive lungs if she does."

Ms. Siskos was especially close with her family, all of whom lived in the same neighborhood in Rosedale. She was described as a "true Daddy's girl," and her mother and she were "best friends."

Ms. Siskos was a "true Marylander," according to Mrs. Kontoudis. When asked what she wanted as part of the Make-a-Wish program, she asked for one last trip to Ocean City.

Services were Saturday.

Ms. Siskos is survived by her father and mother, Stefanos and Dina Siskos of Rosedale; a brother, Stamati Siskos, also of Rosedale; paternal grandmother Despina Siskos, and maternal grandmother Despina Cornias, both of Rosedale; and many cousins.

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