Patient Stories

You’re Never Too Young to be a Hero

The initial diagnosis was simple: MRSA Staph Infection. At first, all it seemed 10-month-old Baylee needed was oral antibiotics and she’d be as good as new. But when the antibiotics failed to improve her condition, her pediatrician drew blood to see if the infection was in her bloodstream. What he found wasn’t just scary; it was bafflling: Baylee’s white blood cell count was shockingly high—a symptom of leukemia. The only problem was that the cells didn’t appear leukemic.

Searching for a Diagnosis

Baylee was sent to Phoenix Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Rounds of tests by multiple specialists finally pinpointed the problem: Baylee was suffering from Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukemia—a Leukemia so rare there is no test for it.

“She was 13 months old and our world just crumbled,” says Baylee’s mother, Sharon. Baylee immediately started on chemotherapy but her only hope of survival was a bone marrow transplant. Their attending physician, Dr. Roberta Adams, explained the best chance would come from a sibling match—specifically, Baylee’s 3-year-old brother, Brody.

A Lifesaving Gift

“We told Brody that he could save the life of one of the kids in the hospital—he could be a hero,” says Sharon. We didn’t tell him that person was his sister because we didn’t want to scare him.”

The bone marrow transplant took place in November of 2008. Initially, the transplant was a success. But then Baylee had complications. Serious ones. Brody’s healthy cells were doing their job of attacking everything sick in her body—which was resulting in multiple organ failure. The only solution was a medically-induced coma that would allow doctors to treat her without fear of her moving or pulling out her breathing tube.

“We were terrified,” says Sharon, “but all of the doctors and nurses at Phoenix Children’s were so patient and careful to explain everything to us. As bad as it got, it was a battle each and every person was 100% involved with. They all worked together to save my child.”

Slowly, Baylee improved.

She went home for good in April of 2009, seven months after she arrived. “On the day we brought her home, we said to Brody, ‘You saved your sister’s life.’

And of course the same goes for everyone at Phoenix Children’s. We can’t thank them enough.”

Watch Baylee's Video


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