Right before Owen turned 2, he was diagnosed with the severe, life-threatening Bone Marrow Failure disease, Aplastic Anemia. He endured 9 months of treatment, was kept alive by dozens of blood and platelet transfusions, and lived in and out of the hospital. Unfortunately, his body had no response to treatment and he was slowly losing his battle.
In January of 2014, we found a hero for Owen and he underwent a life-saving bone marrow transplant! Conditioning for transplant included a second round of ATG, several types of chemotherapy and full body radiation. Post-transplant, Owen had some complications and required prolonged use of an immunosuppressant and several more hospital stays. He continued to live most of his young life in isolation to prevent exposure to germs/bacteria.
Owen was and still is a fighter. His strength and courage carried the whole family through this long and terrifying journey. This year, in 2019, Owen is officially in remission!!! He is a happy, healthy, 3rd
grader who loves watching the Mets, playing little league baseball, building LEGOS with his brother, learning about trains, and doing all of the things that young kids are supposed to enjoy!
Owen beat many odds and statistics of survival and is thriving in ways we didn’t believe were possible for him! Due to his extremely prolonged hospital stays and course of treatment, Owen does have some issues he is still trying to work through. This year, he was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm, demonstrates symptoms of ADHD, and began having irrational fears. Thankfully, the aneurysm did not show on his 3rd
brain scan, but we are cautiously monitoring. He has demonstrated issues with anxiety and sleeping, has joint pain and often falls. Health professionals believe the pain and falls are directly linked to Owen’s toe walking, which developed after being confined to a hospital bed for so long. Owen has not made a tremendous amount of progress in physical therapy, OT, or counseling.
Tim and I learned of Merlin’s KIDS and immediately became interested in the amazing work they do. Owen was evaluated with a dog and we were blown away at the change we saw in him within a very short period of time. When learning to walk with the dog’s harness, Owen’s over-pronated foot and toe walking were corrected, his confidence increased, and the comfort he received from the dog reduced his stress level. In time, we know his service dog will have a tremendous effect on his ability to manage his stress and anxiety. Having the dog will finally make him feel safe and confident, which will increase his ability to fall (and stay) asleep. We strongly believe that working with his dog will permanently correct his walking, which will decrease ankle and hip pain, and decrease his falls. If more transplant complications arise, or his aneurysm returns to a more concerning level, his dog will serve as a medical alert dog.
As we start this next chapter of Owen’s recovery, we realize that Owen’s service dog is another hero that we are so grateful to have in our lives! We are so thankful of all of the love and support we’ve received from everyone over the past 6 years. We know we wouldn’t be where we are today if we didn’t have it!!!!
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Tim, Kathleen, Owen, and Ethan