In September 2016, at the age of 2, Grace was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. One day, red dots appeared on Grace’s legs and her feet were swollen. Her parents, Jenny and Harry, took her to a walk-in clinic, thinking it would be a simple diagnosis. The clinic suggested taking her to the pediatric ward at Mackenzie Health Hospital for blood work. Once Grace’s blood work results came back with abnormalities, Mackenzie Health Hospital rushed Grace to Sick Kids Hospital. She underwent multiple blood tests, x-rays, and a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration. Despite initial suspicions that Grace may have leukemia, the test results confirmed that she has aplastic anemia.
Aplastic anemia is a very rare and serious blood disorder in which the bone marrow does not make enough red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It causes fatigue, and aplastic anemia patients have a higher risk of infections and uncontrollable bleeding. Treatment for aplastic anemia may include medications, blood transfusions or a stem cell transplant, also known as a bone marrow transplant. Blood transfusions can involve red blood cell or platelet transfusions.
To date, Grace has been hospitalized several times due to her weakened immune system. She has had 2 bone marrow biopsies/aspirates and was put on immunosuppressive drug therapy in March 2017 with hopes to stimulate her bone marrow into producing blood cells. This therapy consisted of hospitalization to give her anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG) through IV, followed by cyclosporine and prednisone. In June 2017, the hospital determined this therapy had failed and that her only remaining option is to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Currently, Grace receives a platelet transfusion every 10 days and red blood cell transfusions every month at Sick Kids Hospital, combined with drug treatments while she waits for a bone marrow transplant, as it is the only cure.
After much research, Jenny and Harry decided to take Grace to South Korea to proceed with a haploidentical (half match) bone marrow transplant procedure, where they use a different marrow conditioning method than Sick Kids. At Sick Kids, they take the donor’s bone marrow and put into the patient’s body without any filtering. After three days, they use cyclophosphamide (chemo) to kill the T-cells that can cause graft versus host disease (GvHD). In Korea, they take the donor’s bone marrow and filter out the T-cells prior to inserting it into the patient’s body. By doing that, they reduce the chances of graft failure and GvHD, which has the potential to be fatal. As such, the treatment offered in Korea has a higher success and survival rate.
While in Korea, Grace will have to undergo several medical tests, intense chemotherapy and radiation in order to prepare her body for the upcoming bone marrow transplant that is scheduled in the next few months.
The couple will be faced with many expenses for travel, accommodation, and medical costs that are not covered by OHIP. The money raised through this GoFundMe campaign will go toward Grace's medical expenses and help the family with their living expenses while Grace is undergoing bone marrow transplant in Korea.
We are asking you to please help support this amazing family give Grace the best possible treatment.
- Melyssa Filion-Cheung
- Jin hee Cho
- Alisa Kim
- Namwon Cho
- Kuno Paeng
Organizer and beneficiary
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