A four-year-old girl has been praised by her family after she stepped up to donate bone marrow to save her baby brother, who was born with a rare and potentially fatal disease.
In a streak of luck, Khloe Land, from Oregon, was found to be a match for the newborn, despite the likelihood of a sibling being a bone marrow match only being 25 per cent.
The brave youngster was given a superhero dress by her parents, Kayla and Daniel, to wear before the transplant on Monday. A photo posted to Facebook by her dad shows Khloe smiling after coming out of the operating room.
Superhero sis: Khloe Land, four, has been praised for her bravery as she underwent surgery to donate brother to her baby brother Colton, pictured, who has a rare immune system condition
‘Sweet girl’: Mom Kayla shared this photo of Khloe pre-surgery on Monday as she praised her daughter
Her brother Colton, who was born on July 24th, was diagnosed with a rare disease known as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) when he was two weeks old.
The life-threatening disease means he was born with no immune system, and any tiny infection or germ could kill him.
‘Nobody would ever know that he has SCID,’ Kayla told Good Morning America.
‘He’s just a healthy, normal sweet baby. He’s been poked and prodded a lot, but he’s a little fighter.’
Doctors in their native Oregon said the only way to save the baby was to carry out a bone marrow transplant.
SCID is known colloquially as ‘bubble boy disease’, as sufferers need to be isolated to prevent contracting an infection.
Without the bone marrow transplant, Colton’s body would not have been able to process even the tiniest germ.
As well as Khloe, his eldest sister Krissy, eight, was also checked to see if she was a match.
Dr Evan Shereck, who lead the transplant at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, said it was ‘incredibly lucky’ that Khloe was a bone marrow match for Colton, as there’s only a 25 per cent likelihood of siblings being a perfect match.
Family: (pictured L-R) Khloe, Kayla, Colton, Daniel and Krissy are banding together to support each other during Colton’s health journey
Infection: Eight-week-old Colton, pictured, is at permanent risk of infection until his body adapts to his sister’s cells
Lucky: Doctors said that the family are lucky there was a match in the family, as there’s only a 25 per cent likelihood of a sibling match
‘He’s incredibly lucky to have had a matched sibling,’ Dr Evan said. ‘We prefer matched sibling donors because we know the outcomes of transplant are really good.’
According to an update on mom Kayla’s Facebook page, the family are awaiting their ‘sweet girl’ to come out of surgery.
Monitored: The adorable baby will be watched by doctors for another month in the hospital as his body adapts to the new cells donated by his sister
‘[Khloe] had such a hard time but she’s so brave. She went back with the specialist after we convinced her to take her medicine. They called and said she went back okay and did good going to sleep. Now just waiting until it’s over.’
The mom-of-three added that after the surgery, the family’s ‘new life’ begins.
‘Worrying for one child is so difficult, worrying about two is immensely challenging,’ Kayla had written in an update before Khloe’s surgery.
‘Daniel and I can not wait to have this done and over with. This will put such ease over Khloe knowing her piece is done and then we can focus on Colton healing and recovering so we can have our family back together again.’
The four-year-old had bone marrow removed from her back. These cells will then be transplanted into Colton through a PICC line (tube), and he will be required to stay for at least one more month at the hospital.
The family, who live four hours away from the hospital, have moved to a rental close by for the next three months, as the tot will require constant monitoring from the doctors.
‘Little fighter’: Mom Kayla, pictured after welcoming Colton in July 2019, said her only boy is a little fighter
Sisters; Khloe, left, and Krissy, right, are currently being home schooled so they don’t pick up any infections from classmates at school as Colton is highly susceptible to germs
Normal: Colton, pictured, will live a normal life after he returns to health according to doctors
Krissy and Khloe are also being home schooled for the foreseeable future to ensure they don’t pick up any infections from classmates.
Kayla, an Executive Administrative Assistant, has also had to quit her job for the meantime.
Ahead of the surgery, Kayla told GMA that she was ‘hoping’ Krissy would be the match.
‘My husband and I were hoping it was our older daughter because she understood and she wanted to be the one to help her little brother,’ she said.
‘When we found it was Khloe, she was really excited at first and then fear kicked in within about 30 seconds and she broke down and told us how scared she was.
‘Khloe tells Colton all the time that she’s going to save his life, so she knows that he wouldn’t have a good chance of living if it wasn’t for her.
‘Doctors have told us that around one year after transplant he can live a normal life as a kid and be out playing in the dirt and being with other kids,’ she said.
Friends of the family set up a GoFundMe page last month to help offset the medical costs, helping to raise over $7,000 so far.
What is severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)?
SCID – pronounced ‘skid’ – is a group of rare disorders caused by mutations in different genes involved in the development and function of infection-fighting immune cells.
It is difficult or impossible for the immune system to battle germs – viruses, bacteria and fungi – that cause infection.
One in every 40,000 – 70,000 live births in the U.S. is a baby with SCID.
Infants with SCID appear healthy at birth but are highly susceptible to severe infections.
The condition is fatal, usually within the first year or two of life, unless infants receive immune-restoring treatments, such as transplants of blood-forming stem cells, gene therapy (such as a bone marrow transplant) or enzyme therapy.
More than 80 per cent of SCID infants do not have a family history of the condition.
Sources: newbornscreening.info, scid.net