A little over 12 years ago my daughter Erica was born seemingly healthy and happy. When she was approximately 8 weeks old I started noticing that she was sleeping a lot, but still eating, peeing, pooping - which is what we look for in a newborn. And she had no fevers. A week later, something just didn't seem right. She was crying and uncomfortable. I decided to take her to Queensway Carleton Emergency dept. Thanks to an amazing friend, she had us there in record time and before I knew it nurses and doctors were flying around us in a craze. I overheard in the ER, "her hemoglobin is 22. Any chance it was diluted?" I had no idea what that meant at that time. Erica was in cardiac arrest. She was immediately rushed by ambulance to CHEO.
Erica had several blood transfusions over the next 24 hours (thank you to all blood donors). After six months of testing, repeated blood transfusions and two bone marrow biopsies, she was diagnosed with a very rare life-threatening bone marrow failure diseased called Diamond Blackfan Anemia. Her bone marrow could not produce red blood cells because it was missing the precursors to make them.
Thank you to the CHEO team for saving Erica that day. Thank you to the CHEO Research Institute for working so diligently on Rare Disease research. If we would have waited one more day to come in, it would have been a very different end. While we still come in for regular blood work to monitor her health, Erica has been in remission since the age of 5. Today she is 12 and in great health and even looks forward to her visits to CHEO.
Paula is a member of the CHEO Foundation team where she works as their Manager of Philanthropy.