Thursday 23 May 2019

Irish teen Shan stranded in Hurricane Harvey, 'urgently needs blood transfusion for cancer treatment'

  • Carlow teen raised €700k for treatment in Texas against rare cancer
  • 'We could be waiting 10 hours for airlift' - teen and family now stranded in Texas apartment
  • 'We need to get to hospital and we don't know how' - Shan's concerned mother
Shan Tynan (17) with her mum Leona
Shan Tynan (17) with her mum Leona
Denise Calnan

Denise Calnan

An Irish teenager who raised more than €700,000 to receive specialist cancer treatment in Texas is stranded in an apartment as Hurricane Harvey takes hold.

Carlow teenager Shauntelle (Shan) Tynan (19) is living in Houston, Texas with her family as she receives treatment in her battle against rare cancer, multi-system Langheran’s cell histiocytosis.

However, Shauntelle is now stranded in their apartment and is in desperate need of a blood transfusion.

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Shan's mother Leona said: "We've been here a few months now and everything was going well as expected.

Shauntelle Tynan with her family in Texas
Shauntelle Tynan with her family in Texas

"Shauntelle underwent her last bout of chemo, ending August 18, so this is the week that her blood counts are dropping by the hour, by the day.

"She's really unwell... She is in need of a blood transfusion and we're trying to get her to the hospital.

Teenager Shauntelle Tynan told her siblings that the public raised more than €700k for her cancer-treatment
Teenager Shauntelle Tynan told her siblings that the public raised more than €700k for her cancer-treatment

"Texas Children's Hospital are waiting for us, but our apartment complex is surrounded by five feet of water and nobody can get in or out."

Leona explained that they are expecting an air-lift in about eight hours, but the family are growing nervous about the situation.

"We're on the fourth floor, thankfully, but we're getting fairly battered. It's noisy, it's loud, there's alarms going off every few minutes.

"We're holding onto power," she continued.

"We have no wifi or cable but we're happy to be holding onto power.

"We got an email from our apartment complex that they're expecting a lot of more water to enter the building today and we could be without power in the coming hours."

Shan Tynan (17) with her mum Leona
Shan Tynan (17) with her mum Leona

Leona speaks as Hurricane Harvey, dubbed the '800-year storm', has deluged America's fourth-largest city with devastating floods, with rising water forcing thousands on to rooftops and overwhelming rescuers receiving constant calls for help.

The incessant rain covered much of Houston, Texas, in dirty grey-green water and turned streets into rivers navigable only by boat.

Rescue services have urged people to get on top of their houses to avoid becoming trapped in attics and to wave sheets or towels to draw attention to their location.

"We're on the top floor, the fourth floor, so we just need to get onto the roof [for the airlift]," Leona said.

"But we don't know if they're going to come in by air or water until they make contact with us.

"We're getting more and more anxious because obviously we knew Shauntelle would need bloods by Monday, it's still Sunday night here, we've been talking to the hospital and everything.

"By the time we decided we should go in early, we were in a situation where we couldn't get out of. And nobody could get in."

The family are currently nursing the teenager themselves and Leona has credited her mother-in-law, who is a retired nurse, as being a "blessing."

Shauntelle currently has a bad infection and has had neutropenic fevers over the last few days, according to her mother.

"We need to get her to hospital and we don't know how we're going to do that.

"We've called 911 three times and they said we really need to keep them updated.

"They said realistically they could be calling us in 10 minutes, or 10 hours.

"They are dealing with thousands upon thousands of people who need to be rescued and they have limited resources."

Leona said Shan's younger brother, Stephen (11), and sister, Sophie (6) are also in the apartment and they are trying to keep them positive and occupied.

"If we go without power, we've been told it could be four or five days, and we have no idea what we're going to do with them," Leona said.

"We have enough water for another few days, we do still have water coming in but we don't know how long that will last."

Leona said she struggled to gather enough food supplies for their Texas home as the supermarkets had been emptied.


Now as water is rising, the National Weather Service issued another ominous forecast, saying before the storm is gone, some parts of Houston and its suburbs could get as much as 50ins of rain - the highest amount recorded in Texas.

Some areas have already received about half that amount.

Since Thursday, South Houston recorded nearly 25ins and the suburbs of Santa Fe and Dayton had 27ins.

"The breadth and intensity of this rainfall is beyond anything experienced before," the National Weather Service said.

Additional reporting: PA

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