Laynie was your typical second grader. She was happy, outgoing and always looking at the bright side of life. She loved spending time with her friends, playing soccer and had perfect school attendance.
In the spring of her second grade year Laynie joined softball. While her parents began to notice long-lasting bruises and petechiae rashes that came and went, Laynie’s easy-going spirit kept them at ease. She was never tired, never complained or felt ill. But one morning when Laynie’s mom, Holly, went to wake her up she noticed a bit of blood coming out of the corner of Laynie’s mouth.
“When you put all that together, it’s not good,” said Holly. “We took her to the doctor that day and they immediately referred us to an oncologist.”
Laynie was then diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia with a PNH clone, both very rare diseases.
“In the span of a heartbeat, Laynie went from perfectly healthy to needing a bone marrow transplant to survive,” remembers Holly.
Laynie began ATG infusions, which led her into remission. She took a trip with Make-A-Wish, and seemed to be heading back towards a “normal” life. But as they began to wean Laynie off of her medication, she relapsed.
“We have to go for a transplant. We have to get an unrelated donor. And we have to go now,” Holly recalls the doctor saying.
Laynie received her transplant in April of 2017 at the age of nine. She celebrated her tenth birthday on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit of Texas Children’s Hospital.
When asked what they remember most about living on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, both Laynie and Holly use the word “overwhelmed”.
“We were hopeful, but afraid,” said Holly.
Living separated from family was especially hard. Laynie’s dad and brother stayed at their home near Corpus Christi while Laynie was receiving treatment in Houston with her mom.
“As a parent, I wanted to do all I could to ensure my son’s world was not completely disrupted and that he could live as normal of a life as possible,” Holly said. “But transplants are really hard on the siblings, too.”
Laynie and Holly both smiled when they reflected on a particular item they found in their Welcome Basket provided by His Grace Foundation.
“I remember sitting down and settling in,” Laynie recalls. “Mom was unpacking the Welcome Basket and commented on how silly it was that a lint brush was included.”
Holly couldn’t imagine anyone in such a difficult situation caring if they had a little piece of lint on their clothes, until she realized it was meant to keep Laynie’s pillows clean of the hair falling out from chemotherapy.
“It quickly became our favorite thing,” Holly said. “We used it all the time.”
Their family continues to use the blanket that was given to Holly by HGF to celebrate Mother’s Day while they were on the BMTU. She also spoke of what a vital blessing the weekly shopping was to them, as she wasn’t able to leave Laynie.
“The world is full of such lost hope,” said Holly. “But when you see an organization like His Grace Foundation, you realize how much hope there is in the world. HGF is the ‘good’ in the world.”
Laynie is now preparing to enter her freshman year in high school. She is an athletic trainer, loves spending time with her friends, playing tennis, and is excited for her newest athletic venture—powerlifting.
She and her mom are also fierce advocates for Be The Match and educating people about bone marrow transplants, and how simple it is to join the bone marrow registry.
“You can be a living donor and save someone’s life,” Holly said. “It’s nothing short of a miracle.”
Laynie and her mom share their story each year at her school’s Cinco de Marrow event, where they also provide on-site swabbing for eligible donors.
“Bone marrow transplants change lives. It saved Laynie’s life. It saved my life. It saved us all,” reflects Holly.