Baby Hailey Fights Leukemia with Cord Blood Stem Cells

Many people have faced peril at some point in their lives, but 11-month old Hailey has already faced more than most people have in their entire lives. More is on the way.

Hailey has a propensity to snore softly when she sleeps. She has two teeth and blue eyes. But since she was three months old, the Simi Valley twin has also been on chemotherapy. Yet, the insistent form of leukemia she suffers from has not stopped.

But help is on the way. At the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Hailey will get a stem cell transplant later this month. It is all thanks to an anonymous donor’s umbilical cord blood. The treatment will give her an opportunity to win her fight against leukemia. The risks are high, but the risk of not doing anything at all is higher: without treatment the leukemia will be fatal.

“She’s a pretty tough little girl,” said Hailey’s mother, Maria , biting off the words as she tried to explain how the family is managing. “Just don’t have a choice. Just doing it. Just believe she’ll be OK.”

Maria and Rick had a difficult time growing their family. They have a 21-year-old daughter named Heather, but nine miscarriages followed her birth. Thus, Hailey’s story has been dissimilar from the start. She was born along with her twin brother Ryan, from a surrogate who carried the embryos that produced the twins.

Ryan was born healthy, but at 3 months old, Hailey began to develop problems. She sustained a high fever that would not subside, and she began to vomit. She was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia after being rushed by ambulance to Children’s Hospital one day.

The disease makes some of the body’s white blood cells malignant, spurring them to grow uncontrollably.

“They oversuppress the other blood cells. They crowd them out,” said Dr. Neena Kapoor, director of the clinical bone marrow transplant program at Children