Bone marrow match sought for local girl with leukemia

November 04, 2004|BOBBIE CURD

DANVILLE - Ariel Ferrie is 8, and she was diagnosed with cancer when she was just 4 years old.

"That's really all she can remember and all she knows," her father, Jamey Ferrie, said in a realistic tone. "She's lived most of her life with cancer and undergoing treatment for it."

Ferrie is an officer with the Danville Police Department, and had discussed his daughter's condition with his supervisor, Sgt. Tom Bustle.

Bustle is President of the local Wilderness Trace FOP Lodge 69, and had already organized a blood drive through the Central Kentucky Blood Center that will be held tomorrow at the McDowell Wellness Center.


"He (Bustle) came to me about the drive he'd already organized through the FOP, but he wanted to include a search for a match for Ariel, too," Ferrie said.

The "match" Ferrie is referring to is for the bone marrow transplant that Ariel will be in line for after an acceptable donor is found.

She suffers from A.L.L., or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

A.L.L. is the most common type of cancer in children, and can worsen very quickly if its not treated.

When Ariel was first diagnosed back in 2000, doctors said she had a 80/20 chance of surviving and hitting remission.

She did just that.

After her first round of chemotherapy, Ariel was in remission, and she remained there the next 20 months.

Ferrie smiles brightly and says, "The chemo was tough, but she has a great spirit. She's just a very high spirited kid."

Relapse last August

Then, last August, she relapsed.

Now that Ariel has recurring leukemia, doctors have given her a 60/40 chance; as time goes on, the odds of Ariel recuperating and living a healthy life will worsen.

Ferrie talks optimistically, but adds, "Basically, if she relapses a second time, we just start praying. Or continue to."

Ariel is now back in Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville, undergoing another round of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is harsh and taxing enough on an adult body, but can be devastating on a child's.

Until an acceptable bone marrow donor is found for Ariel, it's a necessary evil; they must continue the treatments to hold back the spread of the cancer.

"I really don't think the general public knows what these kids go through when they have chemo," her father says. "It just takes so much out of her, her energy, her immune system. She is completely confined to her hospital room for weeks at a time while she's in therapy. If she goes outside to play, IF she can, she has to wear a surgical mask. But again, that's all she knows."

Although Ariel is in line for a transplant, doctors must first find an acceptable match for her. This can be an intense and lengthy search considering the hundreds of qualities that must be compared within the blood cells.

The more people who can give their time and a little blood to help find a match, the sooner Ariel may be able to end the harrowing chemotherapy sessions.

She may even have a shot at living a full life.

Helping more than just Ariel

But, as Ferrie points out, the donors will be helping so many more on such a broader spectrum.

"If we get people to come to this blood drive, they'll be helping out more than just Ariel in the long run," he says. "They will be giving blood for the actual drive, then a vial will go to researching a donor for a bone marrow match. But, they will be entered into a national database that can be searched for future needs on matches."

If the quest for a match is successful, Ariel should be receiving the transplant sometime between December of this year and February 2005.

The Wilderness Trace FOP Lodge 69 and Central Kentucky Blood Center invites anyone 18 years and older to come to the blood and bone marrow drive tomorrow at the McDowell Wellness Center on Ben Ali Drive. The hours are 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m, and the drive will be held in the aerobics room.

If you chose to help patients like Ariel, your donation will also be registered in the National Marrow Donor Program's registry. This program helps people who need a life-saving marrow or blood cell transplants.

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