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Stories of Hope

To better understand the impact of bone marrow failure, we present stories told by the patients, parents, family members, and spouses who are living with these illnesses. Our entire community benefits from the insightful stories patients and family members share with us about their personal journeys.

Dominique Hughes

SAA Patient Contributes to NIH Research

I was 19 years old when I found out that I had low blood counts. At this time I was just starting college and also working three different jobs. I was having extreme stomach pains and abnormal periods. I went and saw my gynecologist and routine tests showed my low blood counts. I was then sent to the local hematologist who did my very first bone marrow biopsy. When the results came back, he said that he had never seen a biopsy that showed so much inflammation and didn’t know what to do at that...

Tom Coccagna

Doing His Part to Assist MDS Research

The first indication that something was wrong came with a routine blood test. Lots of H's (high) and L's (low) dotted my CBC (complete blood count). My primary care provider said it probably was ‘nothing’, but I might want to follow up with a hematologist just to be sure. I was thirty-nine, a husband and father of three girls. I was an avid runner who ran 10k races, half marathons and full marathons. I had a healthy diet, didn't drink or smoke. I wasn't supposed to be sick. I thought it was...

Brian Anderson

Anderson Family Pulls Together to Create Awareness for Aplastic Anemia

After Liviya’s diagnosis of severe aplastic anemia, my wife Rebekah and I wanted to contribute to bringing awareness to this potentially fatal disease, doing things that can help find a cure.  First, we set up an ongoing annual blood drive now in its sixth year that is facilitated by the American Red Cross. Apart from what happened to Liviya, I had a particular motivation to become as involved as I could be. I’m connected to the biomedical research field as part of the lab animal industry -- I...

Mary Swift

Battling Aplastic Anemia, Seeking Information

At the age of 3, I became ill with a rare blood disorder. I was bruising easily, and my platelet count was dangerously low. I was diagnosed to have ITP, had my spleen removed, and thought I was cured. However, my disease was either dormant or morphing into something else. My symptoms recurred with pregnancy, and after my second child was born, my disease was never dormant again. In 1993, my wonderful doctor was perplexed - whatever I had looked halfway like aplastic anemia AND halfway like...

Liviya Anderson

Horse ATG Saves Young Equestrian

Aplastic anemia is known to most often strike children between ages 6 and 16, and as fate would have it, Liviya’s troubles became evident right on her sixth birthday. Clearly, this had started earlier but we didn’t know about it. The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with her. One possibility was leukemia, but she was later correctly diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia and had the blood counts to support that classification. Liviya immediately began receiving blood and platelet transfusions...

Sue Gabriele

My Son's Aplastic Anemia

My son Jamie was a very sick child. He was in full-time daycare at the age of 12 months, so he caught every cold and infection imaginable. He’d be on one antibiotic and then need another due to a secondary infection. He had mono, severe flus and ear, throat and other infections. When he was 10, we thought he had heart problems because he became winded very easily. We took him to the doctor who referred us to a cardiologist. Jamie was diagnosed as anemic and put on iron pills. He seemed to...

John Vasquez

I’m working through aplastic anemia – my son helps me keep focused.

My aplastic anemia diagnosis was delivered on September 15, 2015 when I was 20. I was always quite active but was finding that I was fatigued, sleeping a lot, and then my gums started bleeding. I hoped this would stop, but that didn’t happen. Finally, when I was attending a local football game, one side of my body went numb. I went to North Central Baptist hospital, and when the blood work results came in the doctor said ‘I am amazed that you were able to even walk in here.’ All of my blood...

Peggy Crosco

Shares her 11-year-old daughter's story

Brianna had always been a healthy young girl. We initially noticed some rather minor things with her but did not know at first how serious they were. She had low-grade fevers that went away during the day, but came back in the evening morning and there was her first-ever nosebleed. She missed school for a few days, so we saw her doctor. There is also a clotting disorder that run in our family – so I also wanted her to be checked for this because she had reached age where this should happen. So...

Amy Ohton

San Diego Family Takes Action for Awareness

My husband David’s journey with MDS began in April 2014, when it was discovered almost by chance while we were on vacation. David was bitten by a brown recluse spider and had a very severe reaction to it. He had to be hospitalized, which is when he got his first blood test in years. The doctor noted that his blood counts were low and, while he didn’t rule out that the spider bite might have affected the counts, there was a possibility of myelodysplasia. It was a ten-day hospitalization, during...

Joe Ellenberger

Fighting PNH While Helping PNH Patients

I’m 31-years-old, and I was diagnosed with PNH in 2009 when I was 24. I am generally athletic, and in college I was a wrestler. I knew what I could expect when training, competing, and recovering from competition. I transitioned from wresting to mixed martial arts (MMA) in 2008. Naturally, when I started that, I wanted to be sure that my training and recovery were the best they could be. I was 9-0 as a Professional in MMA and had my tenth fight in July 2009.  About halfway through training for...
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