Diagnosed with rare leukemia at 2 ½ months in Laredo – two-year-old was saved by stem cell transplant, which hospital is noted for.
SAN ANTONIO, TX. As a first-time mom, Gladys Sauceda, was nervous that her 2 ½ month old baby girl, Anahee, seemed bloated and couldn’t keep food down. Sauceda, who lives in Laredo with her family, immediately took Anahee to her pediatrician, who told her things were normal and changing the baby’s formula would help.
After several weeks, little Anahee’s condition had not changed so Sauceda decided it was time for a second opinion. “I just knew something was wrong and decided to take Anahee to another doctor,” said Sauceda. This is when the nightmare started. The new doctor ordered an x-ray, which revealed a mass in the baby’s abdomen. Sauceda was quickly dispatched to San Antonio for advanced care. It was in San Antonio that Anahee was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML).
“JMML is a very rare and aggressive form of leukemia,” explains Robert P. Sanders, MD, pediatric and blood and marrow transplantation physician with Methodist Children’s Hospital’s Blood and Bone Marrow Transplant Program, who cared for Anahee. “JMML is a particularly tragic disease because it typically affects infants and very young children, and despite our best treatments only about 50 percent of children afflicted with JMML survive,” says Sanders. The only cure for JMML is a stem cell transplant, which Anahee received at Methodist Children’s Hospital.
Methodist Children’s Hospital’s pediatric blood and marrow stem cell transplant program is the only program of its kind in South Texas, and one of the busiest in the country. Methodist Children’s Hospital was Anahee’s home for five months.
“Anahee had an especially difficult course, and almost did not survive long enough to make it to transplant,” says Sanders.
“When we looked for a bone marrow donor we had very limited options, because relatively few Hispanics are registered as potential donors. Without the availability of umbilical cord blood, we would not have been able to offer Anahee a transplant, and she would not have survived,” Sanders said.
“I thank God each and every day for giving us Dr. Sanders and all the wonderful people at Methodist Children’s Hospital,” said Anahee’s grandfather, Rolando Sauceda, holding back tears. “Dr. Sanders saved our baby.”
“It has been an honor to be part of the team that cared for Anahee and a pleasure to see her flourish after transplant,” said Sanders.
Although Anahee had a fairly bumpy transplant course, she eventually recovered and is now a normal, happy two-year-old, with no signs of JMML. “I think it’s just amazing how Anahee recovered,” says Gladys Sauceda. “She loves being with other kids and she loves daycare, where she’s now learning her letters and numbers … she’s a very happy little girl.”
To learn more about Methodist Children’s Hospital’s world-class Pediatric Blood and Marrow Stem Cell Transplant program visit www.sahealth.com/pediatricbmt.
BE THE MATCH. In honor of those battling blood cancers, a team of caregivers from Methodist Children’s Hospital have been holding Bone Marrow Registration Drives in their hospital cafeterias Since August 26, 2015. Their goal is to raise awareness of the need for more bone marrow donors and to have people register to become donors. If you would like to register to become a donor, please visit www.BeTheMatch.org.
About Methodist Children’s Hospital
More families turn to Methodist Children’s Hospital than any other children’s hospital in San Antonio. Methodist Children’s Hospital opened in 1998 as the first hospital in South Texas built from the ground up especially for children. The hospital has embarked on a major expansion project that includes a six-story patient tower with 221 licensed beds. The expansion includes an additional eight patient treatment rooms in the pediatric emergency department, growing from 32 to 40. The newborn intensive care unit, already the region’s largest, will expand from 78 to 94 licensed beds when the expansion is complete in 2017. Babies and children are transported via Methodist AirCare™ from throughout South Texas to receive a higher level of medical care not available in their own communities. The hospital has more than 400 physicians specializing in the care of children. The hospital has grown to become one of the leading U.S. hospitals providing bone marrow and stem cell transplants for children. Additional outstanding services include surgical services, orthopedics, oncology and several specialty clinics for children with chronic illnesses.