Liviya Anderson loves horses. As her father, Brian says, “she had her first horseback ride at a county fair when she was two and it was love at first sight. Riding lessons followed later on when she was old enough, as did a room full of horse posters and book bags, toys and clothes emblazoned with horse prints, stickers and emblems.”
At the age of six, Liviya was taken to the emergency room after her blood work came back from the pediatrician with dangerously low blood counts. What was thought to be something innocent, like strep throat, wasn’t. In the emergency room, Liviya was surrounded by doctors wearing masks while her family prayed that their young daughter wouldn’t die.
The doctors didn’t know what was wrong, all they knew was she needed blood and platelet transfusions immediately. Liviya’s red blood cell count was so low that her body wasn’t getting the oxygen it needed – she was anemic. Her white blood cell count was so low she basically didn’t have an immune system. And her platelets were around 2600, which meant she could start hemorrhaging at any second and die. None of the doctors at the local hospital knew what was wrong with her. They said it could be leukemia. The very thought was devastating. Liviya was later diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia. As Brian says, “Liviya gave us all a lesson on what it means to be brave.”
Fortunately for Liviya, animal research provided a new chance at life. After it was determined that her brother was not a match for providing the preferred treatment, a bone marrow transplant, she was given a treatment called anti-thymocyte globulin, or ATG for short. ATG is a purified animal serum that is made to target particular cells in the human immune system. In Liviya’s case, the ATG would be fighting her own T-Cells, the very cells that were supposed to be protecting her from disease, but in this case were causing it. Horses and rabbits are the main sources of ATG.
Appropriately, Liviya was given horse ATG and responded well to it. Today, at the age of nine, Liviya is well again, but not cured. There is a 50/50 chance that she will have a relapse of aplastic anemia within her lifetime. The Andersons have established a research fund in Liviya’s honor to help find a cure for aplastic anemia.
Throughout the year, the Anderson family raises money for the research fund through their FriendRaising website. They also plan specific fundraising events. On April 26, 2014, the Mom Prom will be held in Wake Forest. The Mom Prom is the ultimate Ladies Night Out event for charity, which includes dinner, drinks and dancing. In addition, there will be a silent auction, raffle, photos, a crowning of a Prom Queen, a Tackiest Dress winner and swag bags, full of goodies for all attendees to take home.
The AA&MDSIF Liviya Anderson Research Fund for Aplastic Anemia is one of the beneficiaries of the Mom Prom. The goal is to raise $60,000 for the research fund, which enables one scientist to research her disease for two years.
Learn more about Liviya’s research fund.