Public health manager on transplant list knows coronavirus dangers

Lori Ahrenhoerster earned the first Zilber School of Public Health PhD in 2014.

Lori Ahrenhoerster would rather be working around the clock with her colleagues in the North Shore Health Department to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Originally appeared March 27, 2020 on the ZSPH website.

But as a person with leukemia awaiting a bone marrow transplant, she’s in a high-risk group. Because her immune system is weakened by both cancer and chemotherapy, coronavirus could kill her.

Thanks to her medical condition, Ahrenhoerster has spent the past four months doing what some people recently started—washing hands thoroughly and maintaining social distance.

As the North Shore Health Department’s public health manager, she’s concerned that people aren’t taking the threat seriously enough, failing to realize that asymptomatic people can pass the virus on to more vulnerable ones.

As a patient, her “biggest, most realistic fear” is that delays caused by coronavirus will ruin her chance of being cured of leukemia. Travel uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have already cost her one possible bone marrow donor.