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Bone marrow recipient gets grim report

Jerry Gomez's family felt a renewed sense of hope last week when he survived a brain biopsy that could have ended his life.

But this week, doctors at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center gave them the news they had been dreading.

The biopsy results confirmed that Gomez, 51, has progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease usually associated with AIDS and some forms of cancer. Gomez developed it after years of aggressive chemotherapy and treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Diagnosed with that cancer in the summer of 1998, Gomez received a bone marrow transplant last year, after people from across Tampa rallied to help find him a bone marrow match. Now, he's fighting again for his life.

Doctors had already said that Gomez could have only a month to live if the biopsy confirmed he had the disease.

Myron Solomon, a close family friend whose daughter Katia received a bone marrow transplant after being diagnosed with leukemia, said doctors plan to try a different drug that could stimulate Gomez's nervous system.

"It's not going to be much to lose, because the worst fears were already confirmed," Solomon said Thursday. "At this point, they will try just about anything."

Gomez's wife, Carol, and their 8-year-old triplets, Robert, Max and Julia, are spending as much time with Gomez as possible, Solomon said.

Gomez is a financial planner who lives in Bayshore Beautiful. He began having seizures around Christmas and since then he has suffered from strokes.

He's paralyzed on the right side of his body and can no longer speak or get out of bed.

To learn more about Jerry Gomez, log onto www.ladybugkatia.com/JerryGomez.html.

Kevin Graham can be reached at (813) 226-3433 or kgraham@sppimes.com.

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