UF law student dies


Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 12:14 a.m.

University of Florida law student Eric Matthew Gold was only 26 when he died at Shands at the University of Florida on Sunday, and yet, one glance at a list of the things he accomplished in his young life and it's obvious that Gold lived with no regrets.

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Gold

"He packed a lot in to those 26 years," said Gold's father, Randy.

Gold was plagued by numerous medical ailments in his life, starting with a diagnosis of juvenile diabetes at age 7. At age 19, he was diagnosed with an endocrine disorder called Addison's disease. And after being diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at age 21, he underwent a double lung transplant in 2004.

And although Gold overcame all those obstacles - even running a half-marathon after his successful lung transplant - a combination of non-Hodgkins lymphoma cancer and a common virus called cytomegalovirus eventually ended his life.

His treatments left him in a weakened and vulnerable state, and a deadly bout of pneumonia caused his death Sunday.

Gold was a native of Miami and also spent time growing up in Orlando. He first moved to Gainesville in August 2005 to work as a speech and language pathologist at Shands Rehab Hospital for a year, just after receiving both his bachelor's and master's degrees from Northwestern University. He enrolled at the UF law school in 2006, and was in his second year.

"His first semester he missed a month of school (due to being ill), and he still made dean's list," Randy Gold said.

Gold was involved in the community, and especially with charitable organizations that involved children. Having lived with diabetes, Gold devoted a lot of time to the Florida Camp for Children and Youth with Diabetes in Gainesville, including serving on its statewide board of directors. The director of the non-profit organization, Rosalie Bandyopadhyay, said Gold was especially passionate about the "Pee Wee Camp" organized for children ages 6-8. Gold was set to be the director of the camp this year, she said.

"He had a great way with the kids," Bandyopadhyay said. "He's left a big hole, not just in the camp organization, but in all of our hearts."

Gold also taught courses for lifeguards and first aid for the American Red Cross and acted as a speaker for the American Lung Association in Chicago and Gainesville.

On three occasions, Gold participated in the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago's Hustle Up the Hancock, a fundraiser in which participants climb 94 flights of stairs to the top of the John Hancock Center in Chicago.

Gold had planned to do it again this year.

"Once he was diagnosed with cancer, back in July, I started to think that I was going to do this with him," Randy Gold said of the climb.

Now Gold's father will have to climb the stairs in his son's honor.

Alice Wallace can be reached at 352-338-3109 or alice.wallace@gvillesun.com.

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