By Michele Newbanks, Staff Writer

The Parkersburg News January 25, 2001

Two days after Rayanna Lancaster lost her struggle to survive, her family and friends are trying to come to grips with their loss.

"We've been best friends since we were 7 years old," Angie Hersman said. "She didn't want any attention toward her, even after the transplant. She was very strong-willed and determined and a fighter. She was just a good person. It's just not fair."

Lancaster's health problems started in the fall of 1997. She found she had PPH, primary pulmonary hypertension, a disorder in which the blood pressure in the lung arteries is abnormally high. The right side of the heart becomes enlarged due to the increased work load of pumping blood against this resistance.

She had a double lung transplant on June 13, 2000. For three months after the transplant, doctors gave her antibiotics to combat a possible undetectable cytomegolovirus (CMV) that the donor might have.

A month after she quit taking antibiotics, she found out she had CMV virus. The virus can be controlled, but not cured. At one time she had the virus knocked down, but a week later, it came back.

The virus produces few symptoms. including a mononucleosis-like syndrome with fever. Pneumonia is a common by-product of the disease.

"She got pneumonia and she got better," Hersman said. "The final thing. there was so much scar tissue that there wasn't enough oxygen that came through the lungs. She went on October 17 to Cleveland Clinic and never returned."

Lancaster was a 1991 graduate of Calhoun High School, where she was active in a lot of school activities. She and her husband Chad were high school sweethearts. She graduated from Glenville State College in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in education. She was a pre-school teacher and coordinator at Family Development of Head Start in Wood County.

She was a member of Pleasant Hill Church and had been attending the Cisco Community Church. - Parkersburg News

EDITORS NOTE: The benefit for Rayanna at Pleasant Hill UM Church this Saturday has been postponed. Her obituary appears elsewhere in The Herald.