Ella's life-saving bone marrow transplant



In 2012, Ella was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome.

Ella was in preschool when she started to get the stomach flu in a clockwork fashion. Every three weeks on a Wednesday she would become ill with a high fever, stomachache and headache. Her family started to plan their activities around the fact that she would be getting sick every three weeks.

Ella’s parents, Bobbie and Craig, did not accept the pediatrician’s initial diagnosis that Ella was just at that age to be exposed to a lot of germs. They believed it was something more.

Eventually, the family spoke with the Infectious Disease department at Children’s Hospital Colorado. The Hematology department regularly monitored her blood counts every week because her white blood cell count was low.

In May of 2011, Ella had her first bone marrow aspiration to check her blood cells, and everything seemed to be normal. They did another bone marrow aspiration in December 2011 to double check. This time it came back with changes that revealed an actual diagnosis.

On January 9, 2012, Ella’s parents received a call from the doctor that confirmed their worst fears. Ella was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, which can progress to become acute myeloid leukemia – a serious form of the cancer.

Ella’s family began testing on January 11 to find a bone marrow match so that Ella could have a transplant. Each day, the risk of pre-AML turning into full AML increased.

It took less than a week to discover that her brother Cale was a perfect match. The siblings courageously underwent the transplant procedure on March 22, 2012.

There was one complication stemming from transplant. Ella developed graft-versus-host disease, which is when the newly transplanted donor cells attack the transplant recipient's body.

Since the procedure, Ella has been in the clear and is doing great.

On an “All about me” poster Ella decorated in the first grade, her wish was that there was no leukemia. She also wants to be a doctor when she grows up.

“She’s a fighter, she’s strong,” said Bobbie. “We are in such an amazing place that we, in our backyard, have Children’s Colorado.”

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