Medical Information

According to the Anemia Lifeline, approximately 3.4 million people suffer from anemia in the United States alone. Anemia is a blood disease that causes decreased oxygen levels in the body, and can severely weaken or incapacitate the victim.

Hylie's anemia is genetically inherited, and she has been especially weak ever since birth. Her blood contains a diminished amount of hemoglobin, the chemical necessary to allow blood cells to carry oxygen. To help her develop naturally, Hylie has taken shots twice a month since she was four years old. The blue band-aid that covered her shot mark for so many years inspired us to "bandage" lamp posts with blue ribbons of our own.

Anemia can severely inhibit the types of surgery one can undergo. When your blood is naturally underpowered, a large loss of blood or a standard artery closure can be very dangerous. This is why the doctors thought Hylie was unlikely to survive lung surgery. Lifloxin apparently fixes this problem, and many anemic children will be able to take advantage of it in the future.

Childhood Emphysema

Emphysema is the world's most dangerous lung disease. It is caused by infection of the bronchial tubes, and occurs mostly in adult smokers and those who live in highly polluted areas. It begins as a small cough, and eventually develops into a widespread breathing failure.

Emphysema in children as young as Hylie is extremely rare, but tends to take place in highly polluted areas. Emphysema among adults in Hylie's neighborhood is very common, thanks to the proximity of several burning factories that have been there for at least three generations.

Currently, there is no real cure for emphysema, since doctors still don't know exactly what causes it. If caught quickly, a victim can keep the disease from spreading by staying away from polluted air and cigarettes. But because Hylie was already weakened from anemia, her condition went unnoticed until the disease was chronic. In the case of chronic emphysema, the only real cure is to replace the lung.

Lung surgery is extremely dangerous. In Hylie's case, it was doubly so because her blood is so thin. It is estimated that only one in seven lung surgery patients survive the operation, so Hylie was fully expected to die of emphysema.

We Learned More

After Hylie's operation, Methusalabs took her genetic profile. It was revealed that she produces very little of a chemical called alpha-1 antitrypsin. It turns out that a lack of this chemical causes people to be highly susceptible to emphysema.

To Hylie's parents, this was completely devastating. If only she could have been profiled like this when she was young, this could have been avoided entirely. She could have gotten supplements. We could have filtered the air, moved her away from the factories, not let her spend her vacation weeks with smoking relatives. Instead, the hidden deficiencies of her body almost killed her.

The Cure

To be saved, Hylie didn't need a magic pill to fix emphysema. All she needed was to get through surgery. Lifloxin is an emergency drug that lets the body sustain itself, even with such a severe loss of blood flow as Hylie was bound to experience. We were given this "miracle" drug, and the doctors to oversee it, by the people who make it.

Another side effect of Lifloxin, as we were told after surgery, is that it can often turn on genetic "memory" that is turned off naturally. After Hylie recovered from surgery, she was given a second injection of Lifloxin and it apparently turned on her gene for making antitrypsin. In other words, it eliminated her susceptibility to emphysema.

Her parents asked about curing anemia with the drug, but they said it wasn't possible to alter her genetics that much. In the future, I'm sure that this company will find a way. They seem to have an almost transcendent wealth of medical knowledge, and we sincerely hope that they put their gifts to the best use they possibly can.