An unexpected journey

1 March 2023

Expected time to read: 3-4 minutes

In mid-2021 when Ky relocated from Adelaide to Maryland in the United States for his father’s work secondment, the whole family were excited to start their new adventure. But only five months after they settled into their home, Ky’s mum, Loretta noticed some awfully dark, black bruises on his body– cutting their stay short and marking the start of long health journey.

“I had never seen anything like it before. This bruise wasn’t just an accidental bump from rough-and-tumble play with his siblings. We knew something was wrong but never expected that news,” recalls Loretta.

Just 10 mins after Ky had blood drawn at the closest urgent care facility, the nurse came rushing in saying they had to go to the hospital immediately. The test revealed Ky’s white blood cell and platelet levels were incredibly low which was a sign of leukaemia or severe aplastic anaemia.

The confirmed diagnosis of aplastic anaemia a month later was devastating. The serious condition occurs when a child’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells and as a result, increases their risk of infection and bleeding problems, while also decreasing the amount of oxygen sent to organs, tissues and cells.

The most effective form of treatment for the condition is a bone marrow transplant but the likelihood of a familial match is only 25%. Despite the odds, all three of Ky’s siblings volunteered to be tested and thankfully, his big sister Charlotte was a 10/10 match.

“We’ll never forget that moment. As a parent, you have a huge sense of relief but an overwhelming feeling of sadness knowing your healthy child needs surgery to save their little brother’s life.”

Two weeks later in early Feb 2022, the family of six returned back to Australia for treatment. But while Ky’s twin, Peyton and brother, Hudson travelled back to Adelaide, the remaining family members travelled to Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick for the bone marrow transplant at Kids Cancer Centre (KCC) - one of Australia’s most established centres for cancers and blood disorders.

(Ky with his twin sister, Paton)

After arriving in Sydney the first few days were spent meeting the team and getting tests completed for Charlotte and Ky. Ky also underwent 5 days of chemotherapy to prepare his body for the transplant. On transplant day Charlotte donated 1.6 litres of bone marrow to her little brother which did in fact save his life.

“We are so incredibly thankful for the Hospital staff who were fantastic across the whole treatment, and involved Charlotte in the process. Just hours after her procedure, they made sure she was able to watch her life-saving gift be administered to Ky through his central line.

(Ky's family welcome him home).

Almost one year on and after many days  in isolation as an immunocompromised patient, Ky’s family are reunited and he’s back home in Adelaide simply being a kid. His days are now spent playing lego, baking desserts and at school with his friends.

Loretta and Ky have come onboard as patient ambassadors for the Walk for Kids with Cancer to help give back to the Kids Cancer Centre and raise awareness about the condition.

Taking place on Sunday 26 March 2023, the family are calling on the public to join the annual scenic walk from The Rocks to Balmoral (13km), or Manly (27km) and fundraise for this great cause.

Loretta says, “Our family will forever be grateful for the wonderful support and treatment we received from the Kids Cancer Centre. The funds raised through the Walk for Kids with Cancer will not only help support their oncology patients, but children with rare blood disorders like my Ky.

It’s important we spread the word about their incredible work, so we can have the biggest impact possible for all these kids.”

To help the Kids Cancer Centre continue to provide the best possible care to sick kids now and into the future, register for the Walk for Kids with Cancer today.

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