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9-year-old leukemia patient: 'Am I going to die, Mommy?'

Posted February 16, 2012

— Devon Murphy loves to play baseball, but when the 9-year-old didn’t feel well enough to take the field last year his parents took him to the doctor.

The Fuquay-Varina boy was diagnosed in November with acute lymphoblastic leukemia affecting the bone marrow. Doctors caught it early and if he keeps up with his treatments, he can beat it.

An important part of Devon’s treatment is the drug methotrexate, without it his mother, Wendy Murphy, fears he wouldn’t be cured.

“The methotrexate goes into the spinal fluid and keeps it from spreading,” she said.

Earlier this week, Devon saw a story on WRAL News about a nationwide shortage of the life-saving drug. Devon had a tough question for his mother.

“Am I going to die, Mommy?” Wendy Murphy said her son asked. “What do you say? I don’t have that answer for him.”

Days later and hours before a scheduled treatment at UNC Children's Hospital, a doctor called to cancel.

“Obviously, it has to do with the supply of methotrexate,” Devon’s father, Tim Murphy, said.

Tiffany Armstrong, executive director of the North Carolina Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, said the methotrexate shortage started when one of three manufacturers stopped production.

“That drug is part of a protocol that has saved an amazing amount of lives,” Armstrong said.

devon murphy Boy fights leukemia amidst drug shortage

Armstrong said in 1960, leukemia survival rates were around 4 percent. With the drug, it is closer to 90 percent, but hospitals cannot give out what they do not have.

“They are trying to ration what they have,” Wendy Murphy said.

Devon's treatment has been delayed.

“Devon is already nervous and scared and wants to be a normal boy again,” Wendy Murphy said.

Devon is among 500,000 patients affected by the shortage of 28 cancer drugs. The issue is due, in part, to a smaller profit margin, because many of the medications have become generic.


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  • jcrew1979 Feb 17, 2012

    Dear Lord, please let this child get what he needs. So sad. In my prayers.

  • clearwaterman Feb 17, 2012

    Shame on you drug companies!!! Better can be done!! Praying for this child and family!

  • saywhaaaaat Feb 17, 2012

    Awww poor child, I couldn't imagine what goes through his head everyday. Praying the boy and his family.

  • sundown80 Feb 17, 2012

    I pray that a supply will become available for all the children who are benefiting from this drug in their fight with cancer. We must pray that is the only thing left to do.

  • ufcx3 Feb 17, 2012

    Praying for this little boy. Heartbreaking story brought me to tears. I wish cancers did not exist :'(

  • Zoey0815 Feb 17, 2012

    sjb2k1 - Thank you for posting the link to a much more in depth, informative article regarding this shortage.

  • Fireflies Rock Feb 17, 2012

    Unacceptable situation; come on drug companies; these are kids with their whole lives ahead of them. How awful for this boy and his family that he had the misfortune to be a victim of this situation. I heard the shortage is easing, and I hope these kids get the life-saving treatments they need soon.

  • kimsstressed Feb 17, 2012

    Prayers are with you Devon... God has special plans for you young man... Hang in there and trust in the Lord.

  • northern-transplant Feb 17, 2012

    Sounds right. We all know how tough life would be for pharma executives if they couldn't afford that new BMW.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Feb 17, 2012

    Medication are too expensive and the only way people can afford them is GENERIC. Now plants are closing and this child like many others will go without medications that will save his life. WHAT HAS THE USA COME TO WHEN WE LOOK AFTER OTHER COUNTRIES AND NOT OUR OWN ? Someone has a plan...get the ball rolling !