Belfast Telegraph

Irish teenage cancer patient caught up in Hurricane Harvey

An Irish teenager who captured hearts in a fundraising drive for specialist cancer treatment in the US has become stranded by Hurricane Harvey.

Shauntelle Tynan has been holding out for an airlift or water rescue in Houston, Texas, as she needs a blood transfusion to cope with the side-effects of her last round of intensive chemotherapy.

The 19-year-old is with her mother Leona and a grandmother four floors up on the top of the apartment complex as the state suffers under the worst tropical storm in decades.

The building is surrounded by at least five feet of water and more catastrophic flooding is being forecast to overwhelm more of the city of Houston.

Ms Tynan's mother said: "We are in a situation now where we need to get her to the hospital and we don't know how we are going to do that."

She was diagnosed nearly two years ago with a rare form of multi-system Histiocytosis X/Langerhans cell histiocytosis (LCH).

Since her diagnosis the cancer has spread to her gastrointestinal system, colon and skin.

The teenager set a record for the most successful appeal for money for cancer treatment earlier this year after online posts went viral.

She raised more than 700,000 euro (£594,000) to allow her family to cover at least a year's potentially life-saving care in Houston.

Ms Tynan, from Co Carlow in the Irish Republic, has been told by her Texas-based doctor that her chances of recovery depended on how long she could spend in the US.

Her mother told Today with Sean O'Rourke on RTE Radio that her condition deteriorated last Thursday and Friday but once they had decided to move the weather had become too bad.

She is suffering infection and fever.

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

The apartment complex is being battered by incessant rain and tornado warnings are repeatedly being issued.

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

The family phoned 911 three times after being in touch with the hospital.

It is understood they are on a waiting list to be rescued with thousands of other people in Houston stranded by unprecedented floods.

Mrs Tynan said her 11-year-old son Stephen and six-year-old daughter Sophie are also holed up in the apartment.

They thought the worst of the storm would pass by Monday night.

"When we lose power - and we could be without power for four to five days - we have no idea what we're going to do with them or how we are going to survive if we can't get out and people can't get in," she said.

"We were really told that we should be over the storm by Monday evening. That's not the case."

Schools have been closed until September 5.

"We have enough water for another few days. We got enough supplies to last us through for a few days," Mrs Tynan said.

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