When Maelin-Kate’s parents, Paul and Megan, brought her home from China after adopting her in 2017, they knew she had medical needs. One leg was shorter than the other — hip dysplasia, it turned out.
Maelin-Kate was scheduled for orthopedic surgery within weeks of her adoption. That’s how her Fanconi anemia came to light.
At first, though, it was something of a mystery. Her labs were clearly abnormal, but not indicative of a specific disease; there was no knowable family history to comb through.
But, one of Maelin-Kate’s doctors at a St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital affiliate clinic just happened to have worked at an institution specializing in Fanconi anemia. She recognized the very rare blood disease right away.
People with Fanconi anemia do not produce healthy bone marrow – so they don’t produce healthy blood. Untreated, this genetic disease can cause leukemia. Maelin-Kate’s was caught early.
St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands of more children.
Megan describes the St. Jude care team who saw them through treatment as being like friends and family.
“Maelin-Kate knew her doctors and nurses loved her. She knew that they wanted the best for her,” Megan said.
Maelin-Kate now visits St. Jude for regular checkups. She’s the youngest of five children and the only girl.
“She has glitter in her veins,” Megan laughed. “She's just super joyful. Every day, she finds a reason why it's the best day ever. She'll say, ‘I see a butterfly – it's the best day ever.' Or, ‘We ate spaghetti for dinner – it's the best day ever.’”
She makes everybody smile every day because she loves everything about life.
Meet more patients