Like most 5-year-olds Donnie Eisenbraun is a bundle of energy. He loves music, swimming and watching Sesame Street. He also loves playing with his twin sister, Emma, and going to preschool.
Both Donnie and Emma have Down syndrome. When they were 3 years old, Donnie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Children with Down syndrome are at an increased risk for ALL, the most common form of childhood leukemia.
Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. These abnormal white blood cells cannot perform their proper role of fighting infection.
His mom, Paulette, knew something was wrong when Donnie ran a persistent fever. As the weeks went by, he was diagnosed with illnesses ranging from pneumonia to bronchitis. Knowing that something else was going on, Paulette took Donnie to the Akron Children’s Hospital Beeghly campus in Boardman, Ohio, where he was diagnosed with ALL and admitted for treatment at the hospital campus in Akron.
“Akron Children’s Hospital saved his life,” Paulette said.
Donnie spent the next month in the hospital where he received intensive chemotherapy. His hospital stay coincided with the holidays and in January 2010 he was able to go home.
Fortunately, with proper treatment, ALL can be cured.
So far, Donnie has responded well to treatment and is now in the maintenance phase, which will continue until he is 7. His current maintenance regime includes blood tests every two weeks and monthly chemotherapy infusion. Every 90 days, he also receives chemotherapy injected directly into his spine.
Paulette is grateful for the hematology-oncology staff, especially the clinic nurses who are part of his ongoing treatment.
“They have made it so much easier for us,” she said.
Despite everything he has been through, Donnie is still an active, happy child. Not even leukemia can slow him down.
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