In December of 2012 Shelby Tisdale noticed some odd bruising on her son Cohen’s neck and chest.
A pediatrician’s blood test revealed worrying figures: Cohen’s platelet count was extremely low. He was immediately referred to a hematologist and oncologist.
After more extensive tests and invasive biopsy, the specialists’ worst fears were confirmed. Cohen had a rare disease called aplastic anemia.
In layman’s terms, Cohen’s bone marrow had lost the ability to produce all three types of blood cells to maturity, causing a dangerous deficiency.
Without red blood cells, his blood can’t transport oxygen.
Without platelets, his blood can’t clot if he bleeds.
Without white blood cells, he can’t fight infections.
And without a biological sibling, he has no easy match for a Blood and Marrow Transplant (BMT). His only course of treatment was ATG (anti-thymocyte globulin) and chemo, a harsh immunosuppressive therapy.
He would now have to face months of more painful biopsies, countless emergency transfusions, and a debilitating course of central-line chemotherapy. It’s harrowing prospects for adult patients during the best of times; Cohen would have to fight it at only five years of age.
Nonetheless, he took the battle head on, his family by his side. And after 18 months of treatment, his perseverance paid off. His conditioned went into remission. He won.
The coast seemed clear for Cohen to continue on his way toward a full and healthy life. But in April of 2016, it was tragically discovered that the condition had relapsed.
Cohen would have to undergo a second, more extreme combination of chemo and radiation. He would also require more BMTs if he has any chance of survival.
Remember, Cohen has no biological siblings. But now more than ever, he needs a matching brother or sister for transplants. If you can donate blood, marrow, or even money to aid in the enormous financial burden his parents are having to face, now is the time to act.