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Leukemia claims Ceres boy, 5
Anthony Harris lost his long battle against a rare childhood leukemia on Feb. 22.

Anthony's body "just gave up," said family friend Lacy Elliott, a friend of Anthony's mother, Shannon Harris.

Anthony, who would have turned six on March 24, had been bravely battling leukemia since he was two. Doctors at Madera Children's Hospital were waiting to see if Anthony's condition would improve in order to do tests to determine if he would be a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. While Anthony had 13 perfect matches for donors, his white blood cell count remained at zero and did not increase in order to become a candidate for transplant, said Elliott.

"They were never able to test him to see about the bone marrow transplant," said Elliott. "He didn't have the immunity. His blood count never came up to do the test.

When doctors checked his leukemia cell count on Feb. 15 numbers had doubled and continued to double each day. On Feb. 16 Anthony was playing with toys in his hospital room but growing ill daily. Two days later doctors told Shannon Harris that they could do no more for her son and gave her the option of allowing him to stay or take him home to spend what little time he had left. He died that Monday morning in his sleep at his Ceres home with many family members surrounding him.

The grieving family bid farewell to Anthony at a private funeral.

On a website devoted to the medical plight of the Ceres boy, the family posted this comment: "Though devastated ... we are thankful that Anthony won the battle on a much higher level as Little Anthony got his wings and suffers no more!"

Born March 24, 2004 in Modesto, Anthony was raised in Ceres, although Children's Hospital in Madera was home away from home for much of his life. He spent most of his time there charming the nurses and staff and would often recline in his hospital bed and say, "This is the life."

Besides his mother and brother, Anthony is survived by his father, Larry Luna.

Remembrances may be sent to The Harris family, 1900 Fifth St. Ceres, CA 95307.

The disease has inflicted financial hardship for Shannon Harris, who also has an older son, Owen, at home. She has been unable to work while caring for Anthony, and medical and credit card bills piled up.

"In the past four months she had to put $8,000 on credit cards to live while at the hospital," said Elliott. "She's been living on credit cards for three years. She said the only way she's been able to get by was the fundraisers."

Elliott herself helped to raise three fundraisers, including a golf tournament and last week's Drive-Thru Dinner at Neto's in Turlock.

Two websites that were updating the public on Anthony's plight are still up as memorials. The first is and includes photos of Anthony. Another website,, was developed to publicize past fundraisers. The latter website enables the community to make financial contributions through PayPal. For more information on ways to help the family, Elliott may be emailed at