Victoria’s health journey started the day she was born: May 7th 2004. When she came out incredibly bruised and jaundiced, doctors ordered a blood test. The test results, indicating Victoria had very few platelets in her blood, made clear that something was wrong.
First time parents, Katie and Jeff immediately geared up to help their little baby survive. After two years of platelet transfusions, doctors’ appointments and medical examinations, Victoria was finally diagnosed. The verdict: little Victoria had neonatal thrombocytopenia, a blood disease that prevents the body from correctly producing platelets.
The news was devastating. “Her doctors told us there were no other treatment options. A marrow transplant was her best chance,” said Katie.
The family spent the next few years preparing. To give Victoria the best chance for a successful marrow transplant, the Portland family temporarily relocated to Seattle, where the children’s hospital had greater experience with transplant.
Still paying a mortgage on their Portland home, relocating took both a financial and emotional toll. Now a family of five, they crammed into a small two-bedroom apartment close to the hospital. This new living arrangement was the family’s best option for keeping Victoria healthy and getting to doctor appointments easily.
Being far from family and friends was a challenge, but the most difficult part was seeing Victoria suffer. To prepare for her transplant, Victoria underwent intensive chemotherapy and low-dose radiation, which took a toll on her small body. “She was very lethargic. She could not play,” said Katie. “As a parent, that’s super hard to watch.”
Thankfully, though, the family had hope. Like 70% of all patients who need a marrow transplant, Victoria did not have a matching donor in her family. Her doctors turned to the Be The Match Registry and within a few months, found a volunteer marrow donor willing to save Victoria’s life.
In July 2009, when she was 5 years old, Victoria received her life-saving marrow transplant. While the recovery was taxing, by the following year, Victoria was the healthiest she had ever been. She was back in school full time and participating in her favorite activity, dancing.
If the donor center allows and both parties consent, a donor and recipient must still wait one year before they can exchange contact information. After a year of anticipation, Katie reached out to Victoria’s marrow donor – a woman from Texas with children of her own. “I wrote her a letter. It was hard to put in words what she meant to us. What she gave is just an un-measureable gift.”
Today, Victoria is happy, healthy and full of life. “Looking at her, you would never know what she has been through,” said Katie. “Be The Match saved my daughter. There are no words to express how much that means to me.”
You can give children like Victoria as second chance at life. This holiday season, give the gift of life!