Young girl, family seeking to find right stem cell donor

Young girl, family seeking to find right stem cell donor
Kathryn Child knows there’s something wrong, but somehow “through everything she manages to just still be happy and cheerful and playful and charm the heck out of anybody she meets,” her father Brian Child says. The family is hoping to find a stem cell donor to complete a transplant for their daughter. Courtesy photo

VISTA — The questions plaguing Brian and Maribel Child every day all revolve around their young daughter Kathryn: Is she getting enough medication? Is she getting enough nutrition? What else can they be doing to help their daughter? Is she going to make it to next month?

Fourteen days ago Brian created a gofundme account. In that short amount of time, some 104 people have contributed more than $7,000 — all in the name of helping Kathryn.

At 7 months old, Kathryn was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Kathryn, who turns four in April, has had every chemotherapy drug known to mankind pumped into her body, her father said.

He called it “extremely lucky,” that they were able to catch the Leukemia by a hair. “The doctors said if we had waited another day or two to bring her in she probably would have died,” Brian said.

Since then, Kathryn has gone through two years of chemotherapy, lost all of her hair, lost weight and only just now, Brian said, she’s starting to gain weight.

Speaking from the hospital, where the family spends the majority of its time now, Brian tries to explain just what Kathryn has been through, listing off the multitudes of illnesses and infections that have afflicted her with a breathless exhaustion in his voice.

While the fundraising effort has a goal of $60,000 to help offset the medical and living costs, what the family is seeking to find most is a stem cell donor with the right match.

If all goes well, (and Brian is acutely aware that there’s a lot of things that need to go right), a stem cell transplant can help Kathryn be a normal little girl for once, he said.

“(Kathryn’s) really aware that she’s ill and needs to be at the hospital,” Brian said. “She needs to stay from germs and from anything really dirty and she has to take all these medications and (that) there’s something really wrong. She doesn’t know exactly what’s going on, but she understands enough to where she works with the doctors. She tries to be as helpful and cooperative as possible.

“Somehow through everything she manages to just still be happy and cheerful and playful and charm the heck out of anybody she meets,” he said.

Though under constant stress, the event has brought Brian and Maribel, their family and their community closer together.

“We’ve got a lot of support, which is nice,” said Brian. The couple is leaning on each other constantly. If one needs a break the other steps in and vice versa, Brian said.

“Every day at work, every time I get a phone call from the doctor I’m expecting to hear that something’s happened with Kathryn and she’s dead,” Brian said. “That never leaves your mind.”

Yet, the support coming through the gofundme account he created has really changed his entire look on humanity, he said. “I didn’t have such a positive view…on mankind,” which, he said, stemmed from a rough childhood.

The family is planning stem cell drives. And because Kathryn is half Mexican, which plays an important factor in finding the right stem cell match, they are hoping that ethnic groups will also be willing to donate. People can visit BeTheMatch.org to register to become a donor and get tested.

With the stem cell registry updated every few weeks, it’s been frustrating for Brian, he said, because there’s nothing they can do but sit and wait.

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