Robert Ray

Robert Ray

Death 20 Oct 2000 (aged 22)
Saint Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida, USA
Burial Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida, USA
Memorial ID 11174539 · View Source
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Hemophiliac AIDS Brother Dies
Oct. 20, 2000

Robert Ray, one of three hemophiliac brothers infected with the AIDS virus from blood transfusions as children, died Friday at All Children's Hospital of complications from both diseases. He was 22.

Ricky, Robert and Randy Ray gained national attention in 1986 when they were barred from attending class with other children in Arcadia in southwest Florida after their parents told DeSoto County school officials of their condition.

A year after the boys were barred from school, a federal judge ruled they could return, but soon afterward an arsonist torched their Arcadia home and the family fled to Sarasota, one county over.

The boys were welcomed by fellow students in Sarasota, although a few parents protested the transfer.

Robert's older brother, Ricky, died at age 15 of complications from AIDS in 1992.

Robert had been hospitalized at All Children's since Sept. 23. He had been surrounded by family and friends in his final days and passed away at 4:04 a.m. Friday, the hospital said in statement.

He had been heavily sedated and on a respirator since Monday while doctors tried to control excessive bleeding. The respirator was removed Thursday while his family was present.

His mother, Louise Ray said the decision to remove the breathing apparatus was something he had discussed previously with the family.

"His desire was that if they could fix whatever was wrong and make him better, that would be fine. But there's a difference in using life support for treatment vs. prolonging life, and that was his feeling, too," she told the Sarasota Herald Tribune Thursday night.

The former Sarasota resident became engaged to Julia Sparks, formerly of Fort Myers, earlier this year and had been looking forward to a December wedding when his illness postponed their plans.

"He just wanted to be a husband and a father. It wasn't like he wanted something great out of life. He just wanted to be normal," Ray's father, Clifford Ray, told the local nespaper.

The condition of the youngest brother, Randy, wasn't immediately available Friday.

There also was no immediate public comment from family members Friday.

"They appreciate thoughts and prayers offered on Robert's behalf, but will have no further comment at this time," said the unsigned hospital statement.

The three boys contracted HIV, the precursor to AIDS, more than 15 years ago from tainted blood-related products used to control their hemophilia.

After Arcadia, the Rays lived in Sarasota, then Orlando. Robert and his parents moved to outside Mobile, Ala., last year. Randy, 21, and his 19-year-old sister, Candy Ray, remained in Orlando.

Until recently, Robert Ray had not suffered any serious medical setbacks since his virus progressed to AIDS in 1990 - at a younger age than either of his brothers.

He was hospitalized in Mobile on Sept. 10 with a high fever and low blood pressure. He later was transferred to St. Petersburg where doctors had cared fo the brothers most of their lives.

His enlarged spleen was removed a week ago. Since then, other organs began to fail, said his mother, Louise.

Funeral arrangements for Robert Ray will be through Toale Brothers Funeral Home in Sarasota.

Victims of the tainted products have been seeking compensation for years. When Ricky Ray died in 1992 just before his 16th birthday, President-elect Bill Clinton said he was going to make restitution a priority.

The Ricky Ray Relief Act, which allocated $750 million for 7,500 victims, was passed by Congress in 1998 and to date has only 10 percent funding -- $75 million, or enough to cover 670 of 7,500 infected hemophiliacs, dead or alive. Only 4,000 people originally infected are still alive.

"The president has put in the budget that he sent up to the hill later this year most of the money -- not all of it -- that we need, Goss said. "If we can get that money or a good chunk of it, we'll be a long way to keeping our promise to these people to get them the money they need."

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  • Created by: Julie Barousse
  • Added: 14 Jun 2005
  • Find a Grave Memorial 11174539
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Robert Ray (27 Jan 1978–20 Oct 2000), Find a Grave Memorial no. 11174539, citing Palms Memorial Park, Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Julie Barousse (contributor 46580009) .