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Community plans bone marrow drive in honor of Keene baby

By MEGHAN PIERCE

Union Leader Correspondent

March 05. 2018 10:58PM
A bone marrow drive is being planned in honor of a 7-month old Keene girl fighting an aggressive form of cancer. (Courtesy photo)



KEENE — A bone marrow drive is being planned in honor of a 7-month-old Keene girl fighting an aggressive form of leukemia.

Eliana Rouleau is currently at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon recovering from a serious staph infection, her father Adrian Rouleau said Sunday.

“We’re up at Dartmouth right now. Eliana had a bit of a close call, Friday the week before last,” he said. “She became septic with a staph infection and they weren’t sure if she was going to make it. It was a really bad staph infection and we’re trying to get her off the breathing system, but we have to take our time — you can’t rush that type of thing.”

The staph infection came after Eliana received twice daily doses of chemotherapy for two weeks straight to battle a rare but aggressive form of cancer, acute myeloid leukemia.

In the midst of the crisis their friend, Beth Zinn of Keene, started planning a bone marrow drive because Eliana will very likely require a bone marrow transplant at some point.

It’s been touch and go with the infection, Rouleau said.

The bone marrow drive is scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 18, from 1 to 4 p.m. at St. Bernard’s Church in Keene, where Adrian and his wife Meghan are parishioners.

Rouleau said he hopes the bone marrow drive will help someone in need. Unlike a blood drive, a bone marrow donation is not made the day of the drive, Rouleau said. Instead, participants register and giving a tissue sample by way of a swab taken from the inside of their cheek. You must be 18 to 44 to register. If you are a bone marrow match for a recipient in need, you will be contacted. Rouleau added that further testing is then done to determine if you truly are a good match.

“Eliana has gathered quite a following on Facebook and our community, so we don’t know how many people will show but we’re hoping it will be a lot of people,” he said.

Married in 2013, Eliana is the couple’s first and only child. Adrian said he and Meghan were saddened to learn they would not be a good match as bone marrow donors for Eliana. Siblings make the best tissue match, he said.

But the couple continues to be grateful for the support of the community, whether in the form of donations to a YouCaring fundraiser page started by their friend Jen Diamond, or the offer of meals, chores or handmade blankets or toys for Eliana.

St. Bernard Church has taken up collections for the family and Rouleau said co-workers from his job at United National Foods Incorporated in Winchester have been filling and refilling a basket of snack food for Adrian and Meghan to take with them on their long car trips and hospital stays.

Eliana has had numerous health problems from birth, including being diagnosed with a dairy and soy allergy at a month old.

“When she was first born we had issues with milk production and she also had issues. Elaina had issues with gaining weight, and after a week’s stay at Dartmouth because she didn’t gain any weight, it was determined she was unable to process anything with dairy or soy,” he said. “It’s been kind of crazy the past, almost, eight months.”

They have spent many nights at David’s House in Lebanon since Eliana’s birth because of her nutrition issues and her first diagnosis of leukemia on Christmas Eve, followed by a more precise diagnosis on Jan. 30.

“The support has been wonderful and I want to thank everyone, whether they just liked the Facebook page or sent well wishes or prayers. Everyone has been so supportive and we are so thankful for that,” Rouleau said.

Eliana’s YouCaring fundraising page can be found at goo.gl/sYkrdE.

mpierce@newstote.com


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