George H.W. Bush shaves head to show support for young leukemia patient

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Former President George H.W. Bush has done it all — bailing out of a fiery plane in World War II, serving as president and, more recently, sky-diving and developing a reputation as a fashion trendsetter with brightly colored socks that don’t always match.

Now he has shaved his head.

But not for just any reason.

The 89-year-old decided to lose his hair this week to show support for a 2-year-old boy fighting leukemia.

Bush noticed that many members of his Secret Service detail had shaved their heads to show support for the boy — Patrick, the son of a member of the security team — who is undergoing treatment and had started losing his hair.

Members of the Bush Protective Division also set up a website to help with the boy’s medical bills and organized a motorcycle benefit next month in Kennebunkport, Maine, to raise money for treatment.

“Once President and Mrs. Bush learned of this ‘Patrick’s Pals’ effort, they made a donation and President Bush volunteered to shave his head as well,” according to a statement from Bush’s office. “The Bushes lost their second child, Robin, to leukemia 60 years ago this October at the age of four.”

George W. Bush was their first child, born in 1946. Pauline Robinson Bush — known as Robin — was born in 1949. She was diagnosed with leukemia shortly after her brother Jeb was born in 1953.

Former first lady Barbara Bush has spoken emotionally about the events, most notably in an interview with her granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager for the Today show on NBC.

She recalled asking the doctor what the family should do about Robin’s prognosis.

“She said, ‘You don’t do anything. She’s going to die,’” Barbara Bush said in the interview. “She said, ‘My advice is to take her home, love her. In about two weeks, she’ll be gone.’”

The Bushes did not take that advice. Rather, they sought aggressive treatment, but she passed away in 1953, several months after the diagnosis.

“I was combing her hair and holding her hand,” Barbara Bush said in the NBC interview. “I saw that little body. I saw her spirit go.”

The Bushes worked hard through the years to raise money for leukemia and cancer research. In honor of their efforts, officials at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston opened the Robin Bush Child and Adolescent Clinic in 2004.

In the interview, Barbara Bush said the family takes comfort in the progress made against leukemia.

“It made Gampy and me feel that something good is coming out of this precious little life. And today, almost nobody dies of leukemia.”

Staff writer John Gravois contributed to this report.

Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley

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