Leroy Reed is an adult survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a diagnosis typically reserved for children. When his newborn baby, Skylar, began running a fever which spiked to 103.7, he knew from experience that something was wrong.
“We spent three days in another hospital’s pediatric ICU before we were transferred to VCU Health System. My wife, Traci, was completely overwhelmed. Having a cancer diagnosis for your child is a parent’s worst nightmare, but I knew once we were at VCU, everything would be OK” recalled Leroy.
At six weeks of age, Skylar was diagnosed with HLH, rare immune disease, in which the immune system no longer works properly by producing too many antibodies. In Skylar’s case, her body didn’t have an infection to fight, so her body started attacking itself. Leroy and Traci were told that no genetic link exists to Leroy’s previous cancer.
Skylar started chemo the day she arrived at VCU, which lasted four months until she had her first bone marrow transplant, bone marrow donated by a stranger. “We’ve been told Skylar’s donor is a 35-year old man who didn’t hesitate when given the chance to save our daughter. He’s our hero, and he gave enough marrow to last Skylar a lifetime, if she needs it,” chokes Leroy.
She did need it, having her second bone marrow transplant one year later. “Her engraphment started to decline, so we elected to have a second transplant,” explained Traci. “We wanted to be proactive this time, rather than reactive.”
“And the ASK chaplain, had the ability to show up just when we needed him most,” continues Traci. “I would see him coming and I knew everything was going to be alright.” ASK financially supports the chaplain position, as well as a child psychologist and child life specialist in the clinic at the Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU. “We are forever changed because of the kindness we’ve experienced.”