Erica Honoway has received the best gift a mother could ask for – her son Lincoln just came home.
He had been in the children’s hospital in Calgary following a long awaited bone marrow transplant which was a miracle to Honoway.
In February, three-year-old Lincoln was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia – a rare condition in which failure of bone marrow development causes deficiency of the blood cells.
“The first thing they do is test the siblings to see if they can be donors for a bone marrow transplant,” Honoway said.
“Because we have three other kids, they were quite sure one of them would be a match and, sure enough, they didn’t.”
The second option was immunosuppresive therapy.
“It’s a series of terrible drugs that they pump into your baby and hope to heck that by suppressing the t-cells that the bone marrow will start producing cells on its own again,” Honoway explained. “That didn’t work at all. Not even a little bit.”
Lincoln’s last option was to find a donor, so the search began. After looking through all the registries only two matches were found, something Honoway called “disappointing”.
The first tested perfectly, but before the family left for Calgary for the transplant at the end of July the donor was “no longer deemed available”, leaving only one remaining hope.
“We held our breath while they tested this stranger somewhere in the world to see if they’d be a match for Lincoln,” Honoway said.
“A lot of things had to go right. They had to be willing, they had to have no viruses, they had to – indeed – be a perfect match.”
And luckily, for Lincoln’s sake, they were. He received the donation on Sept. 21, following five days of chemotherapy and radiation to kill off white blood cells to leave Lincoln with virtually no immune system – that would give the new cells the best chance to survive in his body.
“The rest is history,” Honoway said, adding his cell count was “awesome”.
“There were about five million things that could have gone wrong and we lucked out because they didn’t.”
Now, Lincoln is home for Christmas with his family – he returned to Regina Tuesday night.
“It’s going to be awesome. I absolutely can’t wait. I don’t care if it’s messy, I don’t care what happens. I just want us all to be together,” Honoway said.
The battle for little Lincoln isn’t quite over yet.
“His immune system is compromised for the next, probably, nine months or so,” Honoway explained. “We have to be careful – no one can get a cold in the next few days.”
“People are good”
Honoway said the support from family, friends and even strangers has been tremendous. She said people cooked meals for her husband and other three children, who stayed back in Regina while she and Lincoln were in Calgary.
A crowdfunding campaign was also started.
“I can’t even put it into words. I bought thank you cards and then just stared at them, like where would I even start?” Honoway said.
“Perfect strangers have just come out of the wood work to support us. If anybody’s lost their faith in humanity, they should just come and see what we’ve experienced because people are good.