Age: 12 years old
Hometown: Bellingham, Wa.
Diagnosis: Severe Aplastic Anemia
“There’s something you need to know about Emma,” her dad Mitchell begins. He continues, describing a fun-loving and deeply thoughtful girl who is brave, determined, intelligent and kind. “She is a soldier.”
It was a long five months ago and the day before Emma’s 12th birthday when she came home from school with unexplained and profuse bruising on her knees. Feeling fine, she went to school the next day only to end up in the nurse’s office when broken blood vessels erupted all over her body. After two consecutive blood tests, her doctors delivered a stunning directive: get to Seattle Children’s Hospital, now.
Instead of celebrating with friends at her birthday party, Emma found herself in the emergency room of a hospital far away from home. Over the next 72 hours, her family’s lives were a blur of grim discoveries and frightening treatments, all happening outside the reach of their familiar surroundings. At night, Emma’s mom Jill stayed in the hospital room, while Mitchell slept nearby inside the family’s truck.
Dazed and focused solely on their daughter’s well-being, Jill and Mitchell learned about the Seattle Ronald McDonald House from a hospital social worker. “When you experience such an incredible trauma as finding out your child has a life-threatening illness, it is hard to even imagine what you need to get through,” says Mitchell. “The anxiety, plus the diligence needed to keep track of the medications, appointments…it’s a lot to manage as a caregiver. The House provides exactly what you need when you need it.”
A few days before Christmas 2010, Emma underwent a bone marrow transplant. The family was extremely grateful to learn Emma’s nine-year-old brother, Owen, was a match. March 31 marked 100 days, a critical time in recovery and Emma continues to move forward with characteristic valor. “She has done everything asked of her and more,” notes Mitchell proudly.
Reflecting on how the House has helped his family throughout this journey, Mitchell says, “My dad always told me there is good and bad in the world. The good for me here has been the care of love of the community. To have no other concerns so you, as a parent, have the opportunity to be totally focused on your child – I can’t say how important that is.”
To read more of Emma’s and other family stories, visit www.rmhcseattle.org