Monday, September 8, 2014

Brayden and Ashlee


In 2010, 19-year-old Ashlee Hannah brought her first and only child, Brayden, to the doctor for his 2-month checkup and immunizations. Brayden reacted badly to the shots – his mouth and throat blistered and his pediatrician immediately sent him to the local hospital in Tombstone, Arizona.

Through a battery of tests, including blood draws and a spinal tap, Brayden’s health continued to deteriorate – he couldn’t eat on his own and doctors had to insert an NG tube for feedings.  After several days of tests at the hospital, Brayden was diagnosed with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) – and that his only chance for survival would be a bone marrow transplant at UCSF in San Francisco.

“He had a lot of procedures done to him; I'd seen him at his worst. At times, I never knew if I would wake up to my little baby boy being alive.”

Brayden was inpatient at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital for five months, and Ashlee didn’t leave his side. She was able to be his bone marrow donor, and looking back, “I am so glad that there was a way for him to live, with the great doctors and nurses at UCSF.”

As Brayden recovered from his transplant, he continued treatment at UCSF and therefore couldn’t go home to Arizona.

“I was only 18, away from my family in a city I'd never been to… We lived at Family House for 11 months, and my son experienced all of his ‘firsts’ at Family House - holidays, his first Christmas. I live in a very small town and am definitely not a city girl, so it was my ‘first’ for a lot of things, too.

 “The staff were always there for me when I needed to talk or needed help. They were my family away from family. If I didn't have the Family House I honestly can say I have no idea what I would've done.

“They helped me with transportation, gave me gift cards, and when money my parents sent was stolen in the mail, Family House actually made up the difference. I was speechless because they didn't need to do that, but they did! The organization is honestly a true blessing - they're truly wonderful people there.”

Brayden is now four years old, and he is into everything - just like other boys his age. He continues to receive IVIG antibody treatments in Arizona (making up for his body’s natural lack of B Cells), and returns to UCSF annually for checkups.

 To other parents of children with a life-threatening illness, Ashlee advises, “You might go through a lot of hiccups down your road when you have a sick child, but you have to be strong for yourself and for your child. Never give up! Make sure you have a great support system like I did with my family, the Family House, and the great medical team that saved my sons life. Know that you're not alone!”

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