For most children, the holiday season is filled with love, gifts and excitement for the New Year. However, for children like Evelyn, simply being present and able to celebrate a holiday is a precious gift. By her first birthday, little Evelyn had endured more painful medical procedures than most people experience in a lifetime. But to look at her now, you’d never know it—thanks to the unshakeable love of her family and the life-saving gift of strangers.
The bubbly two-year-old lives in Oregon with her devoted parents and five-year-old brother, Isaac.
Evelyn’s dark, expressive eyes and happy-go-lucky grin contradict the onslaught of illness she battled from the moment of her birth in April 2013.
Before Evelyn was a few months old, she was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID)—commonly known as the “bubble boy” disease. SCID is a group of inherited disorders that severely compromise the immune system and leave its young victims vulnerable to recurring infections—or worse. “Evelyn had absolutely no immune system. They told us her chances were slim,” said her mom, Stephanie.
That’s when Evelyn’s doctors turned to the Be The Match Registry® and found an unrelated marrow donor willing to step up to help save her life. Unfortunately, Evelyn’s transplant was not successful. However, in spite of the first unsuccessful transplant, the tubes and pain, Evelyn never stopped smiling. “In every picture I took of her in the hospital, she’s smiling,” says Stephanie.
The family decided to proceed with a second transplant just two months after the first unsuccessful try. On the day Evelyn started her chemotherapy to prepare for her second transplant, Stephanie felt curiously hopeful. She and Isaac took a stroll outside and when Stephanie glanced down, she spotted a four-leaf clover. “I just had this feeling that everything was going to be okay,” she remembers.
Her intuition was right. Evelyn’s second transplant in late November was a success. “Today, she’s pretty much a normal two-year-old,” said Stephanie. “In fact, she has surpassed her age for speech and cognitive abilities, which is pretty incredible considering what she’s been though.”
Unlike previous years, this holiday season will be different for Evelyn and her family. With Evelyn’s immune system stronger than ever before, the family will be able to host 18 people for a beautiful Christmas celebration. For a strong, supportive family like Evelyn’s, this year will mean so much.
This holiday season, the family wishes others will get the same life-saving chance they received. “Everyone is hopeful around the holidays; there is a theme of joy and hope,” said Stephanie. “When you donate money or donate marrow you are pretty much giving the gift of hope for people. To give families like ours that hope and chance for life is so special and important, there really are no words for it.”
Join Be The Match and give the gift of hope to patients spending the holiday fighting for their lives. For children like Evelyn, your gift could make all the difference.