Donor found for Brylee Gagnon

11 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE — A County family is celebrating, and breathing a sigh of relief, after learning that a bone marrow donor match has been found for 3-month-old Brylee Ann-Marie Gagnon, who suffers from a life-threatening illness.

    Over 175 County residents joined members of the The Aroostook Medical Center team at the North Street Health Care facility in October to be tested as bone marrow donors. TAMC partnered with the national organization, Be The Match, to hold the local drive in hopes of helping find a match for a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
    Goals for the event were both to raise awareness about the need for marrow donors and to perhaps find a matching donor for the infant and many other patients. A steady flow of area residents entered TAMC’s North Street Health Care Facility and took the first step in potentially saving a life. The original goal of 50 new donor registrants for the drive was more than tripled.
    “Excited doesn’t even begin to describe the wealth of emotions we are all feeling right now,” said Debby Page, Brylee’s grandmother. “Although the match wasn’t one of the people that was tested at the drive hosted by TAMC, we so appreciated their willingness to come in and get tested. Now they are on the list and may be able to help someone else with their own miracle in the future.”
    Brylee was born at TAMC’s A.R. Gould Memorial Hospital on Aug. 8 to Shandi Page and Chad Gagnon of Presque Isle. When she was 10 days old, she was rushed back to the Presque Isle hospital with a fever of 104 degrees. From there, she was taken by LifeFlight to Eastern Maine Medical Center, where she spent nearly a week in the neonatal intensive care unit. It was there doctors determined Brylee had a serious infection in her blood and gastrointestinal tract.
    The infant was transferred to Portland to meet with a pediatric gastroenterologist. She spent the next month in the hospital to be certain the infection was completely gone. It was during her hospitalization that doctors diagnosed Brylee with leukocyte adhesion deficiency, a rare disorder that affects the body’s immune system.
    According to the family, doctors have given Brylee an 80 percent chance of recovery if she gets a transplant.
    “We are very hopeful of a good outcome,” said Page. “Doctors want to wait until she is older and stronger to do the transplant. Brylee goes to Bangor once a month for a check-up, including a white blood cell count. As long as she remains healthy, the doctors hope to wait until she is a year old for the transplant. The longer we can wait, the better the chance of her to survive the procedure and for a successful outcome.”
    With the challenge of finding a donor now having been met, work has now begun to raise funds to help with the expenses associated with her medical treatment. While ideally the procedure is months away, that could change if Brylee’s health declines. With that in mind, the family is working to raise funds now, so that they are ready whenever the transplant takes place. When the transplant takes place, Brylee will have to be in a Boston hospital for at least six months.
    Brylee’s fundraiser — a benefit dinner, dance and auction — is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Presque Isle Inn and Convention Center. The chicken stew dinner will be held from 4:30-6:30 p.m., with an auction, featuring over 100 items, beginning at 6 p.m. The evening will be rounded out by a dance with a deejay from 8-11 p.m.
    “Our family would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and well wishes for our little girl. They keep us strong,” said Page. “It will be a long, hard road ahead for Brylee, her parents, siblings, grandparents and everyone else who loves her, but we will make it through. Please continue to keep her in your prayers as she goes forward with her treatments. We are forever grateful.”