Unidentified virus kills VSU student - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Unidentified virus kills VSU student

September 17, 2007

Valdosta - Students at Valdosta State University are mourning the loss of one of their own; 19-year-old Shannon Martin, who died Thursday at South Georgia Medical Center.

News of her death sent shock waves through campus.  "The reaction was just shock. They were very saddened to hear she was taken away from us," said Thomas Hardy, Director of Housing and Residence Life at VSU.

They've turned to her myspace and facebook profiles online as a way to grieve, posting Blogs, pictures, and personal accounts on how Shannon touched their lives.  "It's really a fitting memorial I believe, to turn to that outlet, so that way they can continue to have the close relationship they had with each other, whether Shannon is with us or not."

And asking why. Why such an active member of their college community was taken so young? Shannon was admitted to SGMC September 7 complaining of head and stomach pains.

Doctors say she died from rare complications from an unidentified virus, leaving students with more questions than answers.  "Its very disconcerting not to know but from everything we've been told from the doctors and the hospital, its not a contagious threat," Hardy says.

Doctors have ruled out meningitis, a contagious and potentially fatal virus usually contracted by college students and infants.

Tests have been sent off but could take several weeks before the students and her family will know what killed her.

Students have also started a fundraiser to help pay for medical and funeral costs.  "A lot of people don't realize but insurance only covers so much and the family had a lot of expenses while staying in the suite with her during her stay at the hospital."  Coin buckets have been placed around campus including Centennial Hall, her dorm building.

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