LITTLE Clare McShane has spent the last six months in a hospital 250 miles away from home after receiving gruelling treatment for Aplastic Anemia.
Clare, granddaughter of Ballintoy couple Seamus and Josie McShane, lives in Chicago with dad Regan, mum Becky, sister Saoirse and brother Taidgh.
Regan, who left Ballintoy for Chicago years ago, told The Chronicle how the family had been left in a state of disbelief after Clare's shock diagnosis but said they're so thankful for the community both in America and 'back home' in Co.Antrim.
Regan explained how they first noticed changes in Clare's appearance and became concerned enough to make a pediatrician appointment.
Regan told The Ballycastle Chronicle: “In February of this year we noticed Clare had small red dots all over her chest and neck area, unusual large bruising, leg pain, stomach pain and had a lot of nose bleeds that would last longer than usual.
“At first we thought the leg pain was growing pain and the stomach pain was just normal upset stomach as it wouldn't happen every day. The first time we saw the unusual bruising, we also saw the small red dots. We called the pediatrician and made an appointment for blood work. When her blood levels came back, the doctor told us to go to the emergency room.”
Things weren't straightforward, it took multiple trips to the hospital and numerous doctor appointments before six-year-old Clare was finally diagnosed.
Regan continued: “We were set up with a hematologist and Clare received blood transfusions and various tests over several months, including a couple of bone marrow biopsies. It was discovered she had a disease called Aplastic Anemia, something we had never heard of before and had no clue about.”
The disease, also known as bone marrow failure, is a life threatening disease which would stop Clare's body from producing all her essential cells.
The family, understandably, found themselves in a state of shock, faced with a very sick little girl in need of immediate care.
Regan added: “We were just stunned. As far as we were concerned Clare was a normal, healthy child, not one needing to be hospitalised.”
However, Clare's diagnosis was the first step of a very long road, a road which would see Clare receive a bone marrow transplant and be confined to hospital for a long period of time.
The first thing the family had to consider was that Clare needed a bone marrow donor who would be a match.
See this week's paper for the full story