Condition: Severe Aplastic Anemia
City, State: Ellensburg, WA
Club: Kittitas Secondary School Sparrow Club Service Hours:
Date Adopted: 10/05/2015
Cole Graham is 9 years old and the youngest of three children. He has two older sisters, Shelby and Samantha. He was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia on Sept. 11th 2014. Cole had no previous medical problems other than mild asthma; he was a healthy, happy and active kid. He was jaundiced starting at the end of July and had been feeling nauseous and fatigued. It was found that he had increased liver enzymes. After multiple tests the doctors at Children’s determined that it was likely caused by a virus. His lab values were starting to decrease and he was starting to feel better until a week after school started when he started to have headaches and bruising. He unfortunately had an exacerbation of his asthma at this time. On Sept. 11th after having a prolonged nose bleed and bleeding after his labs it was found that he had a critically low platelet count that was affecting his ability to clot. He then was taken to the emergency room at Children’s hospital in Seattle and received a platelet transfusion and a bone marrow biopsy later the next day. Doctors ruled out leukemia and diagnosed Cole with severe aplastic anemia that would require a bone marrow transplant from one of his sisters if they were a match. The cause is unknown, they believe it was all related to a virus that caused the hepatitis and there have been cases of aplastic anemia following hepatitis. His sisters were not a bone marrow match so he is currently undergoing immunosuppressive therapy. This will last a minimum of 2 years and again depends on how his body responds with hope that it goes into remission and doesn’t relapse. He has non-related bone marrow matches however doctors use this as a last resort as there are such high risks with rejection and graft vs host disease. If the immunosuppressive therapy is successful it will allow Cole to hopefully function as close to normal as possible, but with risk of relapse and making him prone to other types of cancers and illness. So far he is responding well to the immunosuppressive therapy and we were able to move back home before Christmas. He continues to improve and his blood levels continue to increase so he was finally able to go back to school after being out for 6 months. Cole was the recipient of a Make-A-Wish and our family was able to go to Disneyworld in Florida for a week in March. We went over spring break to celebrate Cole being transfusion free since New Year’s Eve and not needing a bone marrow transplant for the time being as well as his start back to school the following week! This trip was exciting for our family as we haven’t been on a family vacation like this before and it was the kid’s first airplane ride. We stayed at Give Kids the World Resort and went to Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Lego Land, Sea World and swam in the Atlantic Ocean. To say the least, it was an amazing vacation and we were all grateful for the opportunity! These are some major milestones for our family and we are excited our life is getting somewhat back to “normal” with all the kids in school and both mom and dad at work. We continue to monitor blood and medication levels routinely, and still have to be extra careful keeping him safe from infections. We are working on some home improvements to try to reduce his exposure to allergens that can aggravate his asthma and can potentially cause him to relapse or cause him to develop life-threatening infections while he is immunosuppressed. He is allergic to molds, fungus and other environmental allergens (certain trees, brush, etc). It has been difficult at times adjusting to this new challenge in life but everyone has been working through it and trying their best. Throughout this time Cole has been a trooper smiling and acting like a typical 8 year old, he is an amazing kid. He has kept busy with his love of Transformers and Legos and of course we can’t forget the dreaded home work. However, thanks to his wonderful teacher we were able to keep him caught up in school so he was able to enjoy his spring break, work free, and pick up with the rest of his class when he started back as if he hadn’t missed a day. Everyone has been wonderful with their outpouring of love and support to help Cole unite the Autobots (the good transformers for anyone having to google this) to defeat the evil Decepticons (the bad transformers and aka Aplastic Anemia). Posts are updated regularly at www.youcaring.com/colegraham for anyone wanting to follow his progress. Thank you!