20 year-old Danielle has been a patient at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) since she was 10. She’s now facing a kidney transplant, and the life-altering chance to be free of dialysis. She’s one of the many patients and families Friends of Patients is helping this year as they navigate critical treatment at the NIH.
Danielle was nine when she was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia and soon came to the NIH for treatment. She was one of the first patients in an experimental protocol to undergo a stem cell transplant for the disease. Danielle was in the ICU for three months and doctors told her family she might not pull through. “I don’t remember much of being in the ICU except learning how to walk again and my grandma singing to me,” she adds. Danielle was cured of Aplastic Anemia, but the disease and drugs contributed to her subsequent renal failure.
Danielle’s planned kidney transplant is further complicated because her blood type changed from the new stem cells, and doesn’t match the blood types of her family. Her mother is being considered for a “triangle” donation, where, in essence, a donor trade is made with another family.
Danielle thanks Friends at NIH donors, especially for supporting the outings and movies provided by Ana’s Impact fund. “I think it’s really wonderful because there are times when I’m down about being sick again, and want to be normal. The movies and shopping mall trips provide me with an escape to go out and have fun. We can’t do those kinds of things in Jamaica.”
Danielle looks forward to the time when she returns to health and can pursue her career dreams. She wants to be a dietician because Jamaicans, she says, are not conscientious about eating healthy foods.