Many people consider Katie to be a “miracle bride,” but she says that she’s just lucky to be alive, thanks to blood donors.
The symptoms first showed up on her wedding day as red dots all over her legs. Over the next few weeks, she began to experience other signs that something might be seriously wrong: shortness of breath, bruising and hallucinations.
Blood tests at her doctor’s office revealed that Katie had virtually no platelets and more white cells than the lab could count. She needed immediate treatment and a blood transfusion. When she got to the emergency room, she still had to wait about six hours for the first transfusion.
Her situation was very critical for the first 72 hours. Even though they had only been married for three weeks, Katie’s husband, Ryan, was told to plan her funeral. The diagnosis was Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APML), a rare type found in a small percentage of patients with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
Katie spent six weeks in the hospital and then continued her treatment in the outpatient clinic for the remainder of the year. She spent eight hours a day, five days a week getting chemotherapy and fluids to treat the disease. The first round of treatment caused her hair to fall out. The second type of treatment, proven to cure about 70 – 90% of APML patients, caused double vision and Bells palsy, a temporary condition that causes facial muscles to weaken or become paralyzed. Her situation was further complicated when Katie had a severe reaction to the antibiotic vancomycin.
When she had recovered, Katie moved to northern California so she could be a part of an APML research study at the University of California-Davis. Doctors there were amazed by Katie’s progress, especially considering her condition when she began her treatment.
“I get chills when I think of how close I came to dying,” Katie said. “I made a miraculous recovery thanks to blood and platelet donors. I am so grateful to have a second chance to live my life to the fullest.”
Katie completed her treatment nearly eight years ago. Newly single, Katie works for Grand Canyon University. She lives in Phoenix and enjoys spending as much time with her family as possible.