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Sarah's Story

Sarah's Story

Our daughter Sarah “River” Whitmire was a college student in pharmacy school when she died suddenly at age 20, from complications of undiagnosed Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis (GPA), also known as Wegener’s Granulomatosis, or Wegener’s Vasculitis.  Wegener’s is not a terminal illness.  She didn’t have to die from GPA, but our daughter’s individual symptoms were not pieced together.  Sarah had longstanding rhinitis that was worsening, and in fact she had been seen by specialists, in addition to primary care providers, in the weeks before her death.  She was treated for allergies and treated with multiple courses of antibiotics for a “sinus infection” that did not exist.  She developed a cough, gum symptoms, teeth pain,

and fatigue, but still the dots were not connected. Despite having the telltale sign of the collapse of the bridge of her nose (saddle sign,) her Wegener’s went undiagnosed.   When Sarah was finally hospitalized it was thought that she had developed a lung infection, and after invasive testing, she died suddenly during the early morning of October 12, 2021 while we prayed and looked on in horror.  While Sarah was hospitalized, we had no idea that she was going to die, and our lives have not been the same since. Nor will they ever be.   We never want this to happen to anyone else.

Sarah was our oldest daughter, and she was a talented artist.  We have so much of her beautiful artwork to enjoy.  She had a heart for protection of our oceans and marine life, especially whale sharks.  She volunteered fighting food insecurity and promoting sustainability.  She loved Legos and Kuwaii.  She would have done so much good in the world had she been permitted a longer life.  Sarah’s absence has left so many holes in our lives. We miss her smile, her quick sense of humor, her love, and sharing in the excitement of her future.

Our Sarah was a driven student and she wanted to focus her future pharmacy career on caring for patient’s struggling with mental illness. Our world lost a caring soul with a bright future on October 12, 2021 and we are living a lifetime sentence of a broken heart. 

The organization we have created in Sarah’s memory has a primary mission of increasing awareness about Wegener’s GPA.  Everyone needs to learn about GPA, because knowing can save lives.  

Please learn about Wegener’s Granulomatosis and consider volunteering and/or donating to help us to spread awareness about this disease that unnecessarily took our amazing daughter from us.  

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