Eight years ago, Cindy Skinner was shocked to learn that her then 9-year-old daughter was suffering from a life-threatening blood disorder called Severe Aplastic Anemia – a disease in which her bone marrow does not make enough blood cells for her body. (The 3 types of blood cells your body needs are: red blood cells (to carry oxygen), white blood cells (to fight infection), and platelets (to control bleeding).) At that time, the only treatment options were a BMT with a matched family donor or immunosuppressive therapy. It was soon discovered that her parents and siblings were not matches, so Amy went on immunosuppressive therapy – similar to cancer treatment and she ended up in hospital for three months at that time.
For a while, Amy did very well on this form of treatment/medication. She required fewer and fewer transfusions over time and actually got to the place where she didn’t need them at all. But then in July 2015, her counts dropped dramatically. For several months, Amy was surviving on transfusions and increased medications yet nothing seemed to be bringing her counts back up to a safe level.
It was then that the team at the ACH told her that BMT from a matched unrelated donor transplant was an option. After much consultation with the doctors and her family, Amy made the decision to proceed with a transplant. On August 4, 2016, Amy came to the ACH and had chemo and radiation to prepare for transplant. On August 12, the team came in with the donor cells and the infusion was completed. While most patients stay in hospital for weeks following transplant, Amy was determined to get home as soon as possible to continue her recovery. As a testament to the advancements in BMT research and the decreased level of toxicity associated with these transplants, she shocked everyone when she went home only four days post-transplant.
Amy is an incredibly articulate teenage with a very mature perspective on life. Living with this condition has taught her a lot about empathy and understanding. She’s grateful for the entire team at the hospital and role they have played to get her to this place. She recognizes the importance of BMT research for it has given her a chance to be cured of her disease.