By B.C. Manion
Angelique Boston has battled illness from infancy, and now the 11 year old is at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, as she awaits evaluation for a lung transplant.
The young girl, who goes by Angel, has a condition known as severe combined immune deficiency (SCID), more commonly known as the Bubble Boy disease, said her mother Sara Boston. The operation would be followed by a bone marrow transplant to give her the ability to fight off infections, Sara said.
The young girl’s health battles touched the hearts of students and staff at Quail Hollow Elementary, and prompted the school to have a Boston Reading Marathon to raise money to help Angel’s family.
Lisa Martin, a clinic assistant at the school, helped organize the fundraiser, along with Kim Mahoney, who was Angel’s fourth-grade teacher, and Dawn Showalter, who leads the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO).
Angel has been hospitalized in St. Petersburg since Aug. 8, Sara said, who is grateful for the kindness shown by Quail Hollow Elementary in Wesley Chapel.
“I think it’s wonderful. I’ve always been a very private person,” Sara said, noting she has never wanted to reach out for help.
Martin said she was motivated to get involved because she came to know Angel through interactions at school.
“She came to the clinic a lot,” Martin said. “She’s very near and dear to my heart.”
Mahoney was moved by the girl’s plight, as well, Martin said. The school’s PTO played an important role in the fundraiser by sponsoring prizes for students raising the most money to help the family, Martin said.
“Our students went above and beyond,” said Martin, noting they raised $6,200.
Angel, who attended Quail Hollow until she became too ill, has always been somewhat sickly, her mother said.
Angel was diagnosed with asthma when she was just 9 months old.
At one point, the girl was tested for cystic fibrosis as a potential cause for frequent upper respiratory infections, but that result was negative.
She had tubes placed in her ears to help alleviate infections to no avail.
In late 2011, Angel began having more frequent asthma attacks that were increasingly debilitating, her mother said.
One evening before her ballet class, she broke down in tears, Sara said. Angel told her, “Mommy, I can’t do it anymore. I can’t breathe when I’m done.”
So, Sara made an appointment with a doctor that Angel had seen about a year before. The girl did not show signs of distress during the appointment, but the doctor became concerned by the exam results and sent Angel to Tampa General Hospital for additional evaluation.
She was admitted to the pediatric unit for observation, but she became short of breath and was rushed to the pediatric intensive care unit, where she underwent treatments, her mother said. Lab work indicated Angel had a critically impaired immune system.
The family was referred to the immunology clinic at All Children’s Hospital, and that’s when Angel was diagnosed with SCID, Sara said.
The condition became more widely known during the 1970s and 1980s when the world learned of David Vetter, a boy who lived for 12 years in a plastic, germ-free bubble, according to the SCID.net website.
The defining characteristic of SCID is usually a severe defect in T-cells, which generally results in the onset of one or more serious infections within the first few months of life. Those infections, which may even be life threatening, may include pneumonia, meningitis or bloodstream infections, the website states.
After she was diagnosed, the next step would have been the bone marrow transplant, and her younger sister Belle was the perfect match.
But doctors determined that was not her best option, Sara said.
Doctors now believe that Angel needs a lung transplant before receiving the bone marrow, and that both should come from the same donor, Sara said.
The family has been referred to a group of transplant doctors at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The team has done three other cases involving lung transplants, followed by bone marrow transplants, Sara said. She has been told that Angel would be their youngest patient.
Sara said the family is still awaiting word on when they’ll go to Pittsburgh for the lung transplant evaluation.
For more information
To find out more about Angelique, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/angeliqueboston/
If you want to help
Angelique Boston’s dad, Dave, has set up an online fundraiser at giveforward.com. To help, search for the fundraiser called hopeforangel. The fundraiser is slated to end on Jan. 31, 2013.
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