The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 39.0°F | Fair

John A. Selormey '97

John A. Selormey '97 died Thursday afternoon at Brigham and Women's Hospital after a battle against a severe form of sickle cell anemia.

A native of Ghana, Selormey lived at Burton-Conner House and was majoring in electrical engineering and computer science. He was also involved in international student events, tutoring, and a variety of other activities.

"He was extremely likable and very, very funny about everything," said Kamel N. Addo '97. "He just made people laugh."

Selormey "was a very spirited individual with a twinkle in his eye and voice," said Medical Department Head Arnold N. Weinberg.

"He was always in a very good mood," said Kofi D. Fynn '96. "If you didn't know him well, you couldn't tell he had a potentially life-threatening condition."

Sickle cell anemia is a relatively common and usually less severe disorder that causes normally rounded red blood cells to deform, becoming sickle-shaped and sticky. The cells can then clump together and can block small blood vessels, reducing blood flow and causing pain, Weinberg said.

Cases range from very mild to very serious, Weinberg said. Problems include periodic acute "crises" that result in severe pain in bones as cells clog vessels, Weinberg said. Selormey faced such crises periodically, he said.

"He'd come back [from the hospital] and he'd be smiling," Fynn said. "He'd crack jokes about it. I consider him a very strong fighter."

Selormey's death "definitely came as a shock," Addo said. "We had gotten used to his getting sick on and off. He always got well and would be well for awhile. We were always kind of sure he'd be better."

Selormey had been taken to Brigham and Women's following a crisis on Wednesday. He seemed better Thursday morning following a blood transfusion, Weinberg said. "Then he suddenly developed severe respiratory problems" and never recovered, he said.

"If [Selormey] didn't complain it was because he wanted to be considered an individual as normal as could be," Weinberg said. "He loved MIT and wanted to get his degree."

Selormey always kept a positive outlook'

"If you were going to have a son, this is the kind of person you'd wish for," said Dr. Kenneth Bridges, who treated Selormey at Brigham and Women's.

"He was bright, personable, polite, inquisitive, and I think most of all, had a positive outlook on things," Bridges said. "In the time that I've known him he never said, why me,' never felt sorry for himself. He pushed himself not to allow the disease to slow him down as a person."

"He was always happy, always smiling," said Burton-Conner Housemaster Halston W. Taylor. "He was always in a good mood."

"John was never too busy with life around here to stop by and say hello and to catch up on old times," said Shamsul A. Sopiee '97. "He always had a smile and an easiness that always lifted my spirits. He gave me a lot to remember him by."

"He's giving us an example to follow. That's what I'm going to miss about him. He made you laugh, he made you angry - you experienced him. He made you feel alive," Fynn said.

"John's presence will be sorely missed. God bless him," Sopiee said.

Friends hope to set a date for a memorial ceremony by Friday.