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Overwhelming support for Sydney baby requiring bone marrow transplant

Starting on Monday, eight-month-old Ella MacPherson will begin the process of undergoing a bone marrow transplant. CONTRIBUTED
Starting on Monday, eight-month-old Ella MacPherson will begin the process of undergoing a bone marrow transplant. CONTRIBUTED - Contributed

Eight-month-old Ella MacPherson diagnosed with rare genetic bone condition

A Sydney couple are astonished by the love and support they’ve received for their infant daughter.

On Sunday, Ryan and Jennifer MacPherson will head to Toronto to begin a lengthy bone marrow transplant for eight-month-old Ella.

The baby was diagnosed in early May with a genetic bone condition called osteopetrosis.

“I was getting her changed when she rolled off the bed,” said Jennifer of an incident that occurred on April 2.

“A very small fall, but she fell and broke her femur which isn’t normal.”

An emergency room nurse, Jennifer took Ella to her workplace at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital where a radiologist noticed something out of place.

“In osteopetrosis they make more bone than they break down, so their bones become really, really dense. And you can see that on X-ray.”

Jennifer said the next day the family was sent to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax for a steady round of tests.

Although osteopetrosis can come in many forms, Jennifer said Ella’s condition is still being studied.

One of the complications of osteopetrosis is bone marrow failure, which is why Ella must now receive a transplant at SickKids hospital in Toronto over the coming weeks.

“The bone starts to take over the bone marrow space so there’s less and less space for white cells, platelets and red blood cells to be produced … and you need those cells to live,” said Jennifer. “The only way to fix that is to do a reset of her cells.

"You never think that this is going to happen to your kid, you don't. But what's nice about it is that you know there's a huge amount of support. Somebody said to me when we were up here in Halifax, you know they're Cape Bretoners, that community will take care of them."

Ella's parents say the procedure wouldn't be possible without the anonymous adult who provided a bone marrow donation.

Ryan is a teacher at Sydney Academy who is heavily involved in athletics throughout the local community, meanwhile Jennifer is also an active volunteer in the community.

The couple said they were shocked and surprised when their GoFundMe campaign, started a week ago, more than doubled the original fundraising goal of $5,000.

The fundraising money will help the MacPherson's with their flights, accommodations and food.

The family expects to stay in Toronto for anywhere between six to 10 weeks while Ella undergoes the procedure. 

“I think for both of us, it’s pretty humbling,” said Ryan MacPherson. “We’re pretty active in the community and we like to help people out. For people to help us out is unexpected and really appreciated.”

The MacPhersons, who also have a five-year-old son named Boyd, say they are thankful for the support from their families, friends, co-workers and even strangers who are helping them along in their journey.

“When you have people jumping to help you out, we’re really lucky to live where we live,” said Ryan.

The MacPhersons say they are also thankful for the medical professionals they’ve encountered over the past several months in both Cape Breton and in Halifax.

Members of Ella’s family are also running a Facebook page titled ‘All for Ella’ to help keep supporters updated on her journey.

erin.pottie@cbpost.com

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