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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thursday Table Talk: Christy O & Her Grandson Donavan

By: Christy Ochs

In November, 2008 my healthy, active 10 year old grandson Donavan became ill with strep throat, and was later diagnosed with Epstein Barr Virus. He had a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, and felt pretty sick. No one, including the doctors was very worried until Donavan’s condition rapidly began to deteriorate. Instead of getting better, his fever spiked and his lymph nodes grew to almost the size of baseballs. He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Fortunately there was a doctor on staff at the Children’s Hospital who specialized in immune disorders, and he quickly ordered tests which confirmed that Donavan was suffering from a rare immune disorder called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (or HLH).

HLH occurs mostly in infants and children, but occurs in only about 1.2 per million people. This is truly a devastating disease. We were told that had Donavan not been diagnosed when he was, he would have died. The disease had affected almost all of his internal organs. He had almost no immune system, he was basically an “open wound”.

The only effective treatment for HLH is a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately Donavan would have to achieve some level of good health before they could perform a transplant and because of his compromised immune system, he was constantly sick. By Februray 2009 he was battling frequent pneumonia, countless infections and finally Cancer. He was on high doses of steroids, and intensive chemotherapy. He was in the hospital most of the time, and could not attend school or be around other children.

Finally, on January 1, 2010 Donavan had his bone marrow transplant. After many close calls, and terrible side effects, in mid March it was determined that he had grafted and he was released from the hospital.
Donavan will continue to be closely monitored, throughout his life. He still requires weekly infusions and platelets, and spends about 3 days a week in clinic. He will not be able to attend school for 2 more years, and will have to wear a mask when out in public for the next year. But he is well on the road to recovery, and we are so thankful.

Throughout Donavan’s worst days, I leaned on my strong network of Nanny friends for their encouragement support and prayers. Many of these Nannies I knew only from INA and other Nanny organizations, but on many days these loving and nurturing women helped carry me along. There is never a crisis that comes up that I don’t feel that I can call on this incredible support system to reassure me. I am truly blessed to be a part of such a loving community.

Christy Ochs is the INA's 2007 Nanny of the Year. She is the founder of the Denver Area Nanny Association.


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