Castleman Disease Patient Sews Masks for Local VA Hospital

According to a story from, Susan Head of Little Rock, Arkansas is a marine veteran who now faces a new battle: Castleman disease. In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, Susan began searching for a way to give back to her local VA hospital. When she heard about the shortage of masks that the staff there were facing, she knew what to do and began sewing masks for them.

“They’ve saved my life more than once,” Susan said.

About Castleman Disease

Castleman disease causes a variety of life-threatening symptoms and is characterized by an excessive production of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Idiopathic multicentric Castleman disease is the most severe type. The precise cause is still not entirely clear, but it is most likely that the immune system plays a significant role. Symptoms are severe and varied, including enlarged lymph nodes, fatigue, night sweats, weight loss, fever, enlargement of the liver and/or spleen, fluid accumulation, shortness of breath, coughing, and dysfunction of vital organs, like the liver, bone marrow, and kidneys. Treatment includes siltuximab (the only FDA approved treatment), chemotherapy, surgery, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressants. To learn more about Castleman disease, click here.

Giving Back

Susan has taught her husband how to sew and the couple has been working as a team to make the masks. So far they have delivered hundreds of hand sewn masks that have been used to equip both hospital staff and the patients that get treated there.

They have been dedicated to the cause, sometimes working twelve to fifteen hours at a time making masks. They have also started to get more creative with their designs that reflect which branch of the military the patient served in. Susan hopes to expand the operation even further as other veteran clinics have gotten in touch with her to obtain masks.

Susan gets routine treatment for Castleman disease at the VA hospital. When she comes in for her next appointment, she will have a fresh batch of 350 new masks on hand to distribute.

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