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iPad technology helps student continue Leukemia treatment and schoolwork

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BLUFFTON, SC (WTOC) -

For a lot of nine-year-olds, using an iPad might just be for fun.

For one young student being treated for leukemia, it's helping him continue his education and more.

It's hard to believe that just a year and a half ago, Leo Vannoni was a healthy  nine-year-old boy, but that all changed after he contracted leukemia after the first week of second grade.

"The doctors decided it would be best if he had a bone marrow transplant, and we were very fortunate that his 14-year-old sister was a perfect match and willing to give him her bone marrow," said his mother, Kelly Vannoni.  

However, something went wrong after the transplant and Leo contracted a virus that's altered his appearance.

"His skin is very hard, his mobility is limited and his immune system is very, very low," she added.

He's on a strict list of medications stretching three pages long and now spends his time shuttling back and forth to MUSC for checkups.

Because of his condition and schedule, Leo had to leave Bluffton Elementary School.

"It's just hard, real hard. That's about all I can say," said Leo.

Thanks to modern technology, he can continue his schoolwork on days that he feels better.

"I miss it," he added.  

By being able to interact with his classmates through the iPad, Leo's mom and the school believes it will not only help him with his education, but also his social development.

"Bluffton Elementary is technology infused. You just want to do whatever you can to make him feel better and to get him healthy and back on track," said teacher Kimberly Thomas.

Wearing a "Refuse 2 Lose" shirt, Leo won't give up and says his doctors describe him in one word: "resilient."

At his side at all times is his mother, Kelly. Both are grateful the Beaufort County School District is supporting them through this difficult time.

Leo will return to MUSC in the next two weeks to start his new treatment.

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