LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A Lufkin man supported by the Lufkin community in his fight against a rare autoimmune disease has died.
Brent Slaton was 42.
The Lufkin Lions Club, of which Slaton was a member, announced the death in an email to members on Tuesday.
Slaton learned he had contracted scleroderma, an extremely rare autoimmune disease, in 2014. With an outpouring of support and fundraising from the community, Slaton decided to undergo a stem cell transplant in 2016.
“I’m only the eighth person in the world to get this kind of treatment,” Slaton said in a 2017 interview.
Slaton began feeling the symptoms of scleroderma in April of 2014. He said he had sensitivity in his hands which turned to inflammation in his hands, feet and face. Four months later, he started noticing difficulty in his breathing when he did more stressful activity, like climbing stairs.
It took a lot of testing and six months before he was finally diagnosed with the disease.
“It was very frustrating not knowing what I had,” Slaton said in the 2017 interview. “I ended up being diagnosed with an autoimmune deficiency, but there are thousands of those.”
KTRE interviewed Slaton in 2017 from Williamsport, Penn., at the Little League World Series. Slaton served on the Lufkin Little League board of directors and made the trip to watch the Thundering 13 win a national title.
During that interview Slaton said there was no prognosis on the illness.
“My doctor told me I’m one in a million,” Slaton said. “And so they don’t really have a sample to give a prognosis.”
“Brent was a beloved, fun-spirited and always active member of the Lufkin Host Lions Club," Lions Club President Hall Henderson stated. "He could always be counted on for a laugh, a good conversation and a head-turning outfit. Even during his battle, he continued to be involved with our club. He will be dearly missed by each member, and his personality and spirit will never be forgotten. Today we lift up his friends and family, and most certainly his wife, Shelly, and his son, Mack.”