My Doernbecher Story
I first saw my son Calvin when he was two years old. He came to me as a foster child, but from the moment we met I knew he was mine, my son. I tried to adopt him but because they said he was terminally ill with Kostmann's Neutropenia (lack of granulocytes in his blood to fight infection), he was "unadoptable." I began the fight to adopt him, and together we began the fight to keep him healthy. I knew in the back of my mind that he had KN, but at the same time I guess I thought love could beat anything.
Calvin was healthy enough until he turned five, when he developed an infection, a complication of KN. He was admitted to Doernbecher in April of 1988. His hematologist, Dr. Larry Wolff, "Dr. Wuff" Calvin called him, was on sabbatical for the year, but I thought it would be just a brief blip on our screen. How wrong I was. Calvin spent most of the rest of 1988 in Doernbecher. I spent my time on the phone, begging our adoption worker to do something to speed the process. Even if Calvin lived only one more day, I wanted him to be officially my son. He was being sustained on daily pheresis transfusions--granulocytes from a small pool of donors from the American Red Cross.
Dr. Wolff returned to the US in August, and began looking for something that would help Calvin beat the infection. On October 13, 1988, I took Calvin out of the hospital on a pass and we went to the courthouse to finalize his adoption, at last. The nurses changed his name on his chart--he was now Calvin Paul Ranney.
Dr. Wolff meanwhile located a small study in NYC for children with KN. Calvin was enrolled, and on December 5, 1988, I picked him up from Doernbecher and we flew to NYC, where we stayed at Ronald MacDonald House and took Calvin daily to the Memorial Sloan Kettering pediatric outpatient clinic. He started on injections of the investigational drug, then called "GCSF," on December 9, and by Christmas, he had a normal granulocyte count for the first time in his life. What a miracle...I told him he'd gotten granulocytes in his socks for Christmas,
If it wasn't for "Dr. LArry Wolff and his dedication and persistence, none of this would have ever happened. I owe him the world for his care of my little boy, whose life changed mine forever.
Calvin was never sick again after he started on GCSF. He grew up to be taller than me at age 13, and never lost his amazing smile and joy in life. Once I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he replied, "I wanna be a star!" Inexplicably and suddenly, he collapsed and died of heart failure on June 27, 1996. He was like a shooting star, in and out of my life, and nothing was ever the same after the day he first walked into my life.