Even as a baby, McKindree seemed to have a hard time fighting off infections. She frequently developed ear infections or sinus infections that led to pneumonia. Physicians told her parents that she would probably grow out of it.
In spite of this, nothing could stop McKindree’s determination to have fun and develop new skills. At age 4, she learned to play the violin. But she excelled in gymnastics, so her parents encouraged her to take lessons and participate in local competitions. During a gymnastics meet when she was 12 years old, McKindree’s mom, Aimee, noticed that something was really wrong. “My daughter looked awful, so I called her over to me during a break,” Aimee said. “She was burning up with fever. That’s when I realized that there might be more going on in her body than run-of-the-mill colds and flu.”
Aimee took McKindree to the doctor to find the cause of her chronic infections. After extensive testing, they determined that McKindree was suffering from Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID). This disorder is characterized by low levels of antibodies that fight infection and has a strong genetic component. McKindree began receiving regular transfusions of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) to boost her immune system. IVIG is a plasma derivative that isolates a particular antibody to supplement the low levels of that antibody in the patient.
At the same time, doctors also discovered that McKindree’s body was not producing red blood cells, either. Her parents heard the bad news that their daughter also suffers from Diamond Blackfan Anemia.
In addition to the IVIG transfusions, McKindree began receiving red blood cell transfusions as well. So far, she has received 52 red cell transfusions. “Thanks to blood donors, our family is complete,” Aimee says. “I’m not sure I have the words to express my gratitude to them. Their generosity helps to take away the fear of losing her.”
McKindree and her family are true advocates for giving to others. They have organized successful blood drives at their church, winning a United Blood Services Hero Award for their efforts. They know that McKindree will need a bone marrow transplant, so they host marrow drives and encourage people to be a part of the national registry.
McKindree is focused on pursuing new goals these days. She is a student at Higley High School with plans to become a nurse one day. McKindree lives with her family in Gilbert.