Fundraiser for Aplastic Anemia
Larkspur Salon Spa was honored to have the opportunity to do the hair and makeup for the Mom Prom 2015 committee! We were truly touched by Liviya and her story of living through Aplastic Anemia.
Liviya Anderson was 6 years old when she was taken to the emergency room after her blood work came back from the pediatrician in disastrous condition. 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.
It turned out not to be leukemia. Liviya had developed a rare disease called aplastic anemia. It is a disease that turned her own immune system against her and was destroying her bone marrow. Liviya’s lymphocytes were attacking the very cells that were crucial to becoming red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Her own immune system was killing her.
Fortunately for Liviya, animal research provided a new chance at life. She endured 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. Their blood is immunized against human T-cells and purified into a hodgepodge of antibodies that is then given through an IV to the receiving patient. Liviya received ATG that had been made from horses, which delighted the horse-loving six-year old. Liviya responded positively to her ATG treatments. She is well again, but not cured. There is a 50/50 chance that she will have a relapse of aplastic anemia within her lifetime.