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Faith’s Very Happy New Year

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Returning Home Cured … An Inspirational Story for the New Year

BY LEANN DILBECK –

Faith Chaney’s parents, Fred & Sheli Chaney, never knew when they named their tiny newborn how appropriately she had been named.  But Faith’s story is one of inspiration and has touched the lives of people around the world.

Almost three years to the day that Faith’s medical journey began, she is returning home and, according to doctors, has been cured of the aplastc anemia that once threatened her life at the very fragile age of three.  Now six, Faith is scheduled to return home this Friday, January 2 to an ever grateful family who feels “incredibly blessed” not only by Faith’s recovery but the amazing community support and prayers.

Aplastic anemia is a relatively rare disease in which the bone marrow does not produce any blood cells or platelets.  Faith’s diagnosis came after a tumble in which she bumped her nose and it would not stop bleeding.  She was airlifted from Mena Regional Health System to AR Children’s Hospital in Little Rock under the care of Dr. Succente.  Dr. Succente encouraged the family to consider a bone marrow transplant at a facility in San Antonio, TX.  Sheli dove into doing her own research and discovered that the success rate at that particular facility was only 1 in 6.

Knowing Sheli’s concern, Dr. Succente attended a conference in Washington D.C. and was able to hear one of the country’s leading researchers on the disease.  Tenacity prevailed when Dr. Succente secured sharing a taxi cab with him and was able to share about Faith’s particular case.  He encouraged her to seek the bone marrow transplant but at a facility he practiced at in Milwaukee, WI.  Sheli’s own personal research revealed that the success rate of the procedure at this facility was 6 in 6.  Faith was immediately transferred and received her transplant on July 17.

Faith’s transplant was a 10 out of 10 match and, according to professionals, that type of match is very rare.  Her donor will remain anonymous for one year, so for now, the family only knows that a 36 year old male from California was instrumental in saving Faith’s life.

According to Faith’s grandmother, Kathy Perez, at one time after the transplant, Faith was on 17 different IV medications to prevent rejection and other complications.  She is now being tapered off of the medications, and will still require constant monitoring because many of the medications were harmful to her liver.  She is considered “immune suppressed” and will therefore need to remain in as germ free an environment as possible.  Doctors have encouraged the family for Faith to avoid other children or anyone who may be sick or have been around anyone sick.

“Her little attitude is absolutely amazing…she is always thinking of others,” Perez said.  “When she received gifts from home, she instantly wanted to do a craft to send back to them to show her appreciation.  She never has a bad attitude or complaint even when she was at her sickest and in horrible pain.  She even refers to the other patients at the facility as the ‘sick kids.’  I don’t think she considers herself one of them.”

Her story has touched so many people.  Sheli set up a website to keep everyone apprised of Faith’s condition. www.carryingbridge.org/visit/prayforfaith and the site has received hits and blogs from people all over the world who have been inspired by this little girl’s story.

Faith’s life and her family’s has forever been changed through her amazing journey.  One of which includes a personal visit from Lance Armstrong in which he presented her with a custom made bicycle just for her.

The family has not celebrated Christmas yet but plans are underway for an enormous celebration on January 10 after Faith and her family have an opportunity to “settle in.”

Faith’s prognosis is excellent.  All of her tests are returning normal.  The doctors consider her “cured” and don’t expect that she will ever be threatened with the aplastic anemia ever again.

Faith’s entire family has been “overwhelmed” by everyone’s generosity, kindness, and commitment to prayer on Faith’s behalf.  Particularly, the family wishes to thank Christ Church at Mountain Fork, Grace Bible Church, U.S. Motors (administration and employees), Union Bank and Bridgett Curry.  “It is simply beyond words to express our gratitude…especially for the prayers.  Our entire family looks forward to a time when it is our turn to give back.”

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