To the Editor:
I am a Warwick teacher who has been teaching for 24 years. The number of children that hold a special place in my heart is endless. There are no words to describe the feeling you get when a child tells you a story of a new puppy they received or when they have received a special gift they so desperately wanted. Losing a tooth is always an exciting event! I was not with Isabella Clary when she lost her tooth in August, but I can only imagine the excitement she had while waiting for the tooth fairy to come. However, the tooth fairy never came. What came instead, was a dreadful phone call that no parent ever wants to get.
Later that day, after a visit to the doctor because the gum would not stop bleeding, her parents were told that she had aplastic anemia. Aplastic anemia is a rare blood disorder in which the bone marrow does not make enough blood cells for the body. The blood cells your body needs are red blood cells (to carry oxygen), white blood cells (to fight infection), and platelets (to control bleeding). Bella had little to none and needed a blood transfusion immediately.
Bella desperately needed a bone marrow transplant. Only 30 percent of patients who need a bone marrow transplant have a matching donor in their families and the remaining 70 percent must hope that a compatible stranger can be found using the national registry. So, imagine their surprise when Bella’s family found out that her father was a 9 out of 10 match. This, in itself, is a blessing.
On Thanksgiving Day, Bella got her bone marrow transplant. Her family waited daily for her count to increase. Then, they waited some more. Her numbers eventually increased to a point where she was released from Children’s Boston Hospital and then spent two weeks at the Ronald McDonald House.
On Wednesday, Jan. 15, Bella was cleared to return home. She arrived home to family and friends waiting anxiously on the lawn.
Bella is truly an amazing little girl. During my countless visits to Boston, I never once heard her complain. She was always full of life. She has this contagious laugh and a smile that won’t quit. I often thought that she possesses many qualities that many adults only wish they had.
Bella’s struggle is not over, but clearly she is on the way to a full recovery. She needs to be very careful, as her immune system is extremely fragile. However, the difficult part is over.
So I urge you to take the time out and become a bone marrow donor. It’s easy! Stop by the Rhode Island Blood Center. After swabbing the side of your cheek, you will become a member of the bone marrow register. Who knows… you could save a life, too.
On behalf of Bella and her family, I would personally like to thank the families and friends for their thoughts, cards, gifts, phone calls and prayers. I would also like to thank God, who heard and answered those prayers.