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She’s only 7 months old, but already Addison Miles has touched the hearts of hundreds of people she doesn’t even know as she clings to life in her battle with leukemia, her survival likely hinging on finding a suitable but so far elusive donor for a bone marrow transplant.
So moved by her story have been some Shelby Countians that they have banded together to organize a bone marrow donor drive for the child, which will be Sunday at Shelby Christian Church.
Her parents, Daniel and Rachel Miles of Finchville, said they are hoping for a great turnout from the community and praying that a miracle will emerge from that effort.
“If we are able to find a match for Addison, it would mean a chance at life for her,” Rachel Miles said.
Addison’s grandfather, David Miles, also of Finchville, said the bottom dropped out of the family’s world when they learned in March that Addison had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
“Rachel took the baby in for a wellness checkup and the doctor said her abdomen was swollen, and there was also some swelling around her liver and spleen, so he sent her for some tests,” he said. “Within two hours, we found out she had leukemia.
“It was a big shock, to say the least. We went from what we thought was a perfectly healthy baby to a life threatening situation.”
Addison has been hospitalized at Kosair Childrens' Hospital since then, except for only a handful of days, David Miles said.
“We’re on the third round of chemo, and specialists from all around the country have been collaborating, and they have come to the consensus that she has to have a bone marrow transplant,” he said. “That’s her last resort. If this doesn’t work, she has no chance of surviving.”
None of Addison’s family members are a bone marrow match, so in desperation, they have been appealing to the public for help.
They held a bone marrow donor drive on June 3 at St. Michael Church in Jefferson County, where the Miles have been members since 1978. Close to 700 people attended, but no matches were found.
Looking for a match
The many people who are organizing the donor drive at Shelby Christian are pinning their hopes that Sunday’s effort will yield the miracle that would save Addison’s life.
One of them, Shelley Goodwin, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said the entire community has been rallying to promote the drive.
“There has been a drive at St. Michael’s, we have handed out information about it [Shelby Christian drive] at the Men’s Health Fair, there have been flyers delivered to many churches, we’ve been on Facebook and other social media, and we will have a presence at the [Shelby County] fair,” she said. “We are just trying to get the word out so people will come out on Father’s Day, just to take about fifteen minutes to answer some questions and have some mouth swabs done.”
The procedure at the donor drive on Sunday is simple, David Miles said.
People must meet a few criteria, such as being between 18 and 60 years old; they will answer a few health questions, and then four swabs will be taken of their mouths.
“That’s all there is to it,” Miles said.
He said that if a match is found, the transplant is simpler these days than it used to be, involving only removing blood from the donor, verses an actual surgical removal of blood marrow.
Dave Hamlin, pastor of Shelby Christian, said he was glad to do whatever he could to help, and hosting the event is a way to do that.
“We are just praying we find a match for Addison,” he said. “But even if we don’t, there’s a chance of helping somebody somewhere.”
A national registry
That’s because the donor drive will be linked to the national Be the Match Registry.
The National Marrow Donor Program is a nonprofit organization founded in 1986 based in Minneapolis and is the world’s largest hematopoietic cell registry, listing more than 9.5 million individuals. Its list is used for transplanting patients with a variety of blood, bone marrow or immune system disorders. As of February 2012, the NMDP had facilitated more than 50,000 transplants worldwide.
Shelby County Judge-Executive Rob Rothenburger, who is also serving on the committee for Sunday’s drive, said when he heard about Addison’s heart-wrenching plight, he had to get involved.
“David and I have been friends for a lot of years, and us grandfathers have to stick together,” he said. “We are just hoping for a tremendous response from the community on Sunday, and really, already, so many people have pitched in to help.
“There has been just a whirlwind of E-mails, flyers, Facebook networking. So this is a great opportunity for our community to really come together to help this family save their child.”
Rachel Miles beseeches everyone in the community who is able to come out Sunday in hopes of increasing the chances of finding someone who save her baby.
“She wakes up every morning with a smile on her face, ready to tackle whatever the hospital staff will toss her way that day,” she said. “She wants to live. She has every desire to beat this.”
Said Goodwin: “If you could potentially hold the key to save someone’s life, how could you not want to be a part of that?”
How to help save a life
What:Bone marrow donor drive for Addison Miles
When:9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where:Shelby Christian Church at 2375 Frankfort Road
More info:Contact David Miles at firstname.lastname@example.org