BELMONT, N.C. – Brody Thornburg is a typical little boy. He’s mischievous, he’s playful, he’s happy and he loves to laugh. He also has Aplastic Anemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.
According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Aplastic Anemia is a blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells.
While it is normal for blood cells to die — the lifespan of red blood cells is about 120 days, six days for platelets and 24 hours for white blood cells — if they are not readily replaced by the marrow, many health problems including irregular heartbeats, an enlarged heart, heart failure, infections, and bleeding can occur.
In severe cases, such as Brody’s, aplastic anemia can be fatal.
Treatment involves blood transfusions, blood and marrow stem cell transplants and medicines. With prompt and proper care, many people who have aplastic anemia can be successfully treated and go on to live normal lives.
When Brody was diagnosed in February of this year, his life became a revolving door of hospital visits, blood and platelet transfusions and emergency room visits.
But then finally, some good news: a bone marrow donor match was found.
“Brody was admitted into the UNC Children’s Hospital on Tuesday (Sept. 22) and his first round of chemo started on Wednesday,” said Brody’s mother, Crystal Garrett Thornburg from Easley. “I would say that he’s once again handled it like a champ. Don’t get me wrong — he has had side effects, but honestly he’s just one tough kid.”
High doses of chemotherapy are included in the transplant preparations to “make room” in the bone marrow for the new cells to grow. While the therapy can be hard on patients, an empty marrow is needed to make room for the new stem cells to grow and establish a new blood cell production system.
“I’ve spent every day staring at him and watching the color in his face turn really pale and circles form under his eyes, and every night I’ve watched his heart rate drop really low and then bounce back up on the monitor,” said Thornburg. “I’ve watched the nurses triple check his blood pressure or give him an extra dose of steroids to get him (through) it.”
Thornburg stated that although it has been difficult to watch Brody undergo such difficult treatments, she understands how necessary they are.
“Honestly, it’s been better than I expected. I’ve cried with every dose that has been injected and, boy, he has too. Needless to say, that has not been fun. But somehow this tough little guy always bounces right back with a smile on his face or a wisecrack to the nurses. I’m absolutely amazed by his strength.”
Recently, the hashtag #brodymanstrong has been circling around social media websites to raise awareness for aplastic anemia and little Brody’s fight. A golf tournament and raffle has been organized to help the family offset the staggering medical costs that treatment such as this can rack up.
#Brodymanstrong Golf Tournament is scheduled for Nov. 14 at Deer Brook Golf Course in Shelby, N.C. Hole sponsorships are available starting at $50.
Raffle prizes include two Carolina Panthers lower level tickets, a Yeti 45 Tundra cooler, restaurant gift cards among others yet to be announced. Tickets are $5 a piece or three for $10 with all proceeds going directly to Brody’s medical bills.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.