In April of last year, life for the Hosking family began to revolve around the weekly blood test of older daughter Michelle. Would the 8-year-old’s blood cell and platelet counts go up or down? So far, the results have been inconsistent, even since the child’s September blood marrow transplant at famed Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto.
"It’s frustrating not to see stable results yet, or even a stable long-term prognosis," said Michelle’s mother, Stacy Hosking. "But we understand it is pretty common for bone marrow transplants to have a long period of complications. Michelle had been a real trooper through all the ups and downs."
It took doctors about three weeks last spring to figure out that Michelle’s sudden onset of bruising and red spots was a result of severe aplastic anemia, a disease where the bone marrow mysteriously stops producing any red cells, white cells or platelets for the blood supply. The only options were repeated blood transfusions, which carry a higher risk of infection, or a bone marrow transplant, which improves the odds for a longer life.
Aside from the lingering medical uncertainty and major disruptions of family life, the financial burden on the Hoskings can be hard to believe for anyone who has never faced a medical calamity. Total hospital bill for the marrow transplant was $800,000, most of which was paid by Stacy’s work insurance. However, co-pay bills from various transplant service providers are still trickling in for the Hoskings. And the ongoing treatment expenses can easily reach $800 or more each month.
"Michelle has been to the emergency room approximately 30 times since this started," Stacy Hosking said. "That costs as much as $200 every time, plus the hospital expenses when she gets readmitted for a new problem. And there is close to $300 a month for her medications."
A hospital social worker told Stacy about the Children’s Organ Transplant Association, which gives free support services to help families operate successful community fundraising drives for easing the medical expense crunch. Local campaign coordinator for Michelle’s fund is Donna Chadwell.
"Michelle’s mom and I have been buddies at work for five years, and I know Michelle as a cute, happy little thing who always had a big smile," Chadwell said. "The COTA campaign is just getting under way, and we hope to raise at least $50,000."
Michelle has had three heart catheters implanted to help minimize the number of injections she would face. The first two times, the catheters had to be removed. A complete journal of the 8-year-old’s continuing struggle is online at www.cotaformichelleh.com.
"The worst part is getting poked with needles whenever I get a fever," Michelle said. "And I miss being in school with all my friends."
Contributions for Michelle Hosking’s ongoing medical expenses can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank branch into account
No. 8096484871 or by credit card at www.cota.org. One hundred percent of donationsgo to the Hosking family. To volunteer for local fundraising, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.