The Suan family believe that the community at RMHFW helps you get through your child’s medical emergency. Jennifer says, “There are some things you cannot explain to your family: your feelings, the day-to-day tolls. Families here, they just get it. No family believes their situation is worse, but that we are bonded together to stay positive and support one another through this hard time.”
Before September 2018, the Suan family was your typical military family. With three kids and one on the way, Jennifer, and husband Justin decided she would resign from her job as a nurse and take on the role of being full-time mom, teacher and household caretaker.
Everything was fine and moving right along, when suddenly their youngest son, Hunter, began to show unusual bruising across various parts of his body. His parents thought as most would, “He’s a 4-year-old boy who has been playing too hard. No big deal.” However, when the bruises did not go away, they began to worry.
The family took him to the doctor on base for a routine appointment. After taking his blood, the medical officials said they would get back to them in a few days with the results. A few days turned into a few hours when Hunter’s blood level’s barely registered. They were told they needed to take Hunter to Cook Children’s hospital in Fort Worth immediately.
Idiopathic aplastic anemia is a very serious form of anemia where a person’s bone marrow stops making new red blood cells. Red blood cells are important to our body because they carry fresh oxygen throughout it.
Hunter was diagnosed with idiopathic aplastic anemia. He was going to need a bone marrow transplant, and the doctors recommended the family be screened for a possible match. His older brother Aeden told his mom, “I’ll do it! I hope I’m a match.”
Amazingly, their oldest daughter Hailey was a 100% match!
Hailey was scared to be Hunter’s match, but when Justin taught her about the procedure, she quickly stepped up to the challenge. Jennifer said on the day of the procedure, Hailey was ready to go when the doctor was talking to Hailey she began telling the doctor all about the bone marrow transplant. The doctor looked up and said, “You’re teaching us about it. This is amazing!”
In October, Hailey’s bone marrow was extracted and given to Hunter. The Suan’s say, “She was sore for a few days but fine. Actually, one week later she had 100% cells back from the ones she gave Hunter and declined taking anything for pain.”
Hunter responded great. Before the transplant, patients have to completely wipe out their immune system. Essentially, they are like brand new babies after the transplant and must re-establish their immune system before being exposed to the world again. Jennifer (who had also just given birth to their fourth child, Aevelyn) thought could her breast milk repopulate his immune system. The doctor said, “Yes, that’s actually what we recommend.” She started producing milk for Hunter, too.
The family attests his recovery in the hospital to RMHFW:
“While he was in the hospital, his brother and sister would tell him how awesome and cool the House was. He couldn’t wait to live there, and would ask, “When do I get to go to the Ronald McDonald House?” On some days, this was actually how we got him to take his medicine. We would tell him, you have to take these to eventually stay at the Ronald McDonald House of Fort Worth.”
Hunter flew by all the markers ahead of schedule and the family was able to return home to Abilene, TX before his 100-day marker, March 5th.