The family of a four-year-old Victoria girl, who is fighting leukemia after already beating cancer once, is pleading for stem cell donors around the world to come forward this Christmas.
Hannah Day was diagnosed around age three with a malignant tumour in her stomach, but by September, after intensive treatment, she was in remission.
Now cancer-free, Hannah was supposed to go to Disneyland on a trip organized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but just over a month ago she was diagnosed with leukemia, possibly caused by her previous treatment.
Last Saturday, Hannah suffered a seizure and was rushed to hospital in Victoria, then flown to Children's Hospital in Vancouver. Her mother Brooke Ervin was petrified as she called 911.
"It was the scariest 911 phone call I've ever made in my life … she stopped breathing in my arms," said Ervin.
Hannah is now out of intensive care. Although she is still unable to walk and needs help sitting up, she is breathing on her own and has an appetite.
It's a small victory for a little girl who has spent much of her life in hospital, fed through a tube, enduring endless tests and chemotherapy, as doctors help her little body try to beat back cancer.
But it is not enough — what Hannah needs is a stem cell transplant. Hannah's family had hoped her two-year-old sister Hailey, who is the closest potential donor, could save her life, but sadly, she is not a match.
Now, they're asking people around the world to register with the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, which is run by Canadian Blood Services to secure donors for transplant patients.
The odds of finding a match are one in a million, but her family hope their Christmas prayers for a donor will come true. Meanwhile, Hannah is preparing to spend another Christmas in hospital.
"She asked if Santa is going to remember where she is. And that was really sad, because she felt that Santa might not know where she is to deliver her gifts. You know, because she still believes," said Ervin.
"I told her of course he knows where she is, and that she was a good girl and she deserves everything that she wants this year from Christmas."
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