Fighting For Her Life and Others
What An Inspiration!
We wanted to feature 9 year old Katlyn today, as she has inspired us with her selfless desire to help others, especially dogs in need. She has shown that we can all make a difference if we just try.
A few months ago, she was sitting in her Canadian hospital room fighting for her life and discovered our pal Bocker Labradoodle, a beautiful therapy dog with a huge Facebook following. There was an instant connection and a unique story of friendship, kindness and mutual support began.
At only seven months old, little Katlyn was diagnosed with “bubble boy” disease, or severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID). SCID robs the immune system of the ability to fight infections. She lacked the enzyme adenosine deaminase or ADA, which rids the body of toxins which destroy B and T lymphocytes in the blood (these are important infection-fighting cells).
The treatment options for young Katlyn were depressing and dangerous. They included a bone marrow transplant, drugs and injections of the ADA enzymes. Prolonged injections of the ADA enzymes risked Katlyn developing antibodies, which would render it useless.
However, there was hope. Katlyn’s condition, known as ADA-SCID, was an opportunity for researchers looking to study and repair genetic defects using a new and promising procedure called gene therapy. In May 2007, Fabio Candotti, senior investigator at the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Marylandi and his team began work to get healthy T cells with functioning ADA genes in Katlyn’s body.
During her treatment, Katlyn took her first steps in her sterile isolation bubble and passed the time playing through the glass with a therapy dog named Toffee, who visited the hospital. Her life-long love of dogs began.
Finally in September of 2007, Katlyn and her family received the good news that her immune system was functioning well enough that she could finally go out into the world again.
Sadly, the treatment she participated in at the National Institute of Health did not work longterm. Katlyn ended up back in hospital many times. After trying less invasive treatments, last July, she finally underwent a Bone Marrow Transplant. For almost a year, she underwent treatments for infections and waited for her own immune cells to kick in.
Katlyn Met Therapy Dog Bocker Labradoodle Online
However hospital visits, surprise infections and health complications were not able to dampen Katlyn’s positive spirit. Last winter, Katlyn heard that a therapy dog in New York named Bocker Labradoodle, was also undergoing chemo and radiation treatments to fight lymphoma (lymphoma affects lymphocytes a little like Katlyn’s disease). Although she was sick and in pain herself, Katlyn believed that she could help Bocker. From her isolation room, she made posters and had her family and staff collect donations around the hospital.
Katlyn became an advocate for Bocker and raised $31 to help pay for his expensive treatments. She also sent him some lucky gifts.
Katlyn begged her Mom for a “Team Bocker” t-shirt and spread the news of his illness. She promoted how to help to everyone she could.
This selfless little girl and her family are truly inspiring.
Thank you to Katlyn’s wonderful mother Daisy for empowering her. I am a big believer in the importance and rewards of getting children to think about and help others from an early age.
Her mother proudly told her “When you grow up, I know you will do amazing things to help animals”.
Katyln responded, “I don’t have to wait to grow up. There are things I can do now”.
She is already planning to contact her local SPCA to see what she can do to help.
Bocker and his lovely Mom Marie have been in regular contact and recently surprised Katlyn on her 9th birthday with a box full of Bocker goodies! They have inspired us through the support they have given to Katlyn.
We wanted to thank Katlyn for all she had done. We found out her favourite T.V. channel is YTV and her favourite Host is Carlos. We love YTV too, and Carlos just happens to be a great guy and a dog lover (he has a dog called Molly). Carlos gave Katlyn an on-air shout out and hopefully, her story can inspire other children and parents.
The bone marrow transplant appears to have been a success so far. Recently, Katlyn was able to leave hospital and also received approval and partial funding from Health Canada to try a new drug to fight some of her infections (they agreed to pay a percentage and her family pays the rest). Katlyn’s new medication seems to be working. She has been able to hold her weight and is now eating a regular diet. She even jumped on a trampoline and just got a new bigger bike.
It just goes to show that one small child and one Labradoodle can make a big difference.
We wish both Katlyn and Bocker all the best and our hearts go out to all our friends suffering from cancer or illnesses. We look forward to seeing Katlyn achieve great things.
Follow Katlyn’s progress on her Blog & Donate to the Medication for Katlyn Fund
For Bocker’s inspirational story see our post Bocker Fights Cancer. If you would like to donate to help Bocker’s fight so he can continue to make a difference, here is the link: http://marieshelto.wix.com/bockerthelabradoodle