Eighteen-year-old Douglas student loses battle with leukemia | RecordCourier.com
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Eighteen-year-old Douglas student loses battle with leukemia

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

A Mass and rosary will be held today for Angel Vargas, 18, who died after a six-month battle with leukemia.

Angel would have been a senior at Douglas High School this year, but became ill during the summer. His illness was diagnosed in July.

Angel’s mother, Marce Medina, said Angel was not feeling good the day he and his brothers returned from a Christmas visit with his grandparents in Selma, Calif. He got up early Wednesday morning, wanting to take a bath, but collapsed and went into a coma.

“We readmitted him Wednesday at Washoe Medical Center in Reno. He had developed pneumonia and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. Those things are very common to anyone with cancer because the chemotherapy knocks down the white blood cell counts and makes them susceptible to any infection. The low platelet count causes cerebral hemorrhages,” said Medina, who was a nurse at Barton Skilled Nursing until she took leave to care for Angel.

He never woke up and died Friday at 8 a.m. surrounded by his family.

“My husband and I knew there was a very slim chance he would go into remission (so a bone marrow transplant could be done). That was the hope we were hanging onto, that we had a positive match,” Medina said.

Angel’s brother David was determined to be a match, but Angel would have to be healthy enough to undergo the highly invasive treatment.

n Fund-raisers. Angel’s fellow students rallied around him, making crafts to sell and holding fund-raisers for his medical bills. In December, the senior class presented his family with a check for $500.

Many other people also contributed to fund-raisers and food drives held by Medina’s co-workers to help the family, which also includes David, 17, Raymond, 15, Arthur, 15, Krystal, 6, and their father, Alvaro Vargas, who works at Jackson Quality Drywall.

His mother described Angel as a hard-working, self-sacrificing boy who was always willing to help her take care of the younger children.

“My husband and I would like to thank everyone who helped us through this and everyone who supported Angel,” Medina said Tuesday. “We are so lucky to live in a community with so many caring people. There is nothing else anybody could have done.”

Angel will be buried in Selma on Friday, near the home of his paternal grandparents, David and Juana Vargas. The Vargases moved to Gardnerville three years ago from Fresno. Angel had played on state championship soccer teams both in Fresno and after he moved to Nevada. He hoped to try out for the DHS varsity team this year.

The viewing will be today at 5-6:30 p.m., rosary will be recited at 6:30 p.m., and the Mass of the Resurrection will be celebrated at 7 p.m. at St. Gall Catholic Church, 1343 Centerville Lane, Gardnerville.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that contributions for funeral expenses be sent in Angel’s name to account no. 0049 6266 4755 at Bank of America.