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Sometimes true love requires big risks. When Christine and her husband, Tommy, decided to have a child, they knew there were dangers. They both carry the gene for beta thalassemia, a genetic blood disorder that impacts the ability to carry oxygen to cells throughout the body. Without enough healthy red blood cells, the disease causes severe anemia and impacts normal growth and development. With a 75% chance that their child would be healthy, they decided their love for a child outweighed the risks.
During her pregnancy, Christine’s doctors offered to perform an amniocentesis, a test that can diagnose genetic defects. Some people use the results of this test to determine whether or not to continue a pregnancy. They decided against the test knowing that their faith would give them the courage to face the unknown with their child.
Lauryn was born on August 21, 2006. All the typical newborn blood tests were completed and the family waited to hear the results. They received the call they were dreading when Lauryn was just four days old – tests confirmed that Lauryn had beta thalassemia.
“I couldn’t speak. I was in shock that my sweet, tiny baby was very, very sick,” Christine said. “But my family’s faith provides the strength we need to care for our special girl.”
Experts at Phoenix Children’s Hospital placed Lauryn on immediate blood transfusion therapy, the typical treatment for people with this disease. At nearly 7 years old, Lauryn has already received about 76 red blood cell transfusions, approximately one every 3 weeks. In addition, doctors began treating Lauryn with chelation therapy to remove the excess iron from her body to prevent organ damage. In spite of additional health challenges, including a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and heart murmur, Lauryn’s zest for life continues to shine.
“Blood donors are angels. They are good people who just want to help others,” Christine stated. “They are wonderful examples of the goodness of humanity. Every donation they make gives Lauryn a chance to grow up. She wouldn’t be alive without them.”
Whenever she can, Christine is an advocate for blood donation. “I’m really pleased that I was asked to share my story to encourage my others to donate blood,” she said. “It’s a great thing to join together to give the gift of life to the community.” Lauryn is in kindergarten and lives in Mesa with her family.