Bone marrow match found for 6-year-old Montrealer
Two months after a call out for bone marrow donors, one has finally been found for six-year-old Hampstead resident Ellie White.
Ellie was diagnosed in early December 2017 with acute myeloid leukemia, a rare and severe form of cancer. After months of isolation in the hospital while receiving intense treatments, doctors cleared Ellie in May 2018, allowing her to go home.
During the summer, she finally got the chance to be a normal kid. But in early October, Ellie received devastating news — her leukemia was back, and her treatment required a bone marrow transplant.
Her family took to social media to find a match for Ellie to help save her life. The Swab for Ellie campaign exploded over the fall. Students at various CEGEPs and universities around Montreal organized collection sites to expand the bone marrow donor registry.
The campaign even caught the attention of former Habs defenseman P.K. Subban.
Now, the campaign has paid off. A match has been found. Barbara White, Ellie’s grandmother, spoke to Laura Casella by phone on Global News Morning about the promising news.
She said Ellie has to undergo more tests and treatments in the coming weeks, and if the procedure is cleared, she will hopefully have a bone marrow transplant in mid-January.
For now “Ellie is home and thrilled to be free from IVs,” White said. “She has so much life in her.”
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As for the family, they are taking the news one day at a time. Seeing as she’s only six years old, Ellie doesn’t fully understand the concept, but “she knows there’s a break [and] then another big step,” White said.
Héma-Québec does not allow the identity of the donor to be revealed for two years. As far as Ellie’s family knows, the donor could be from anywhere in the world.
After the social media campaign gained traction, Ellie’s family was blown away by the support they had received from the community.
“It’s just been incredible. It’s so heartwarming to see people’s love, compassion, [and] generosity come through in so many ways.”
Hundreds of people were swabbed for the bone marrow registry when they learned about Ellie’s struggle. “Eventually many people will be able to benefit from this,” White said.
“We wish them well, too. … It’s just a very, very difficult situation.”
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