Evan Perricelli

6-year-old faces rare blood disease

Lisa Perricelli knew something was wrong with her 6-year-old son, Evan, when she started to notice bruises blooming over her child's body.

While Evan was certainly a typical active boy, the bruises seemed out of the ordinary.

"I have three boys," she said, "so I was familiar with the normal 'wear and tear' of boys."

A few weeks later at the doctor's office, a finger prick revealed that Evan had dangerously low levels of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets in his blood.

"Cincinnati Children's Hospital was immediately summoned," said Lisa, a resident of Boone County. "Leukemia was initially suspected, but after two bone marrow biopsies and eight weeks of tests and transfusions, Evan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia on August 1, 2013, just a few months after his kindergarten graduation."

Aplastic Anemia is a rare blood disease in which damaged bone marrow and blood stem cells prohibit the body from producing new blood cells, resulting in low levels of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

The best hope for a cure is a bone marrow transplant, which is dangerous and often challenging to perform due to the difficulty in finding a suitable match from a donor.

Fortunately, Evan's brother, Lucas, was a match and less than two months after his diagnosis, Evan received his transplant on Sept. 19, 2013.

Despite receiving a matching transplant, Evan had a long recovery ahead of him. He still needed platelet transfusions, even after receiving new bone marrow.

"Evan needed blood products fairly immediately," Lisa says. "Without platelets, your blood can't clot and you can bleed to death fairly easily."

"It's very, very frightening when you are the parents of a young, active boy. All it takes is a bump on the head. Evan needed transfusions of platelets approximately two times per week until transplant and even a couple after until his body began to make its own, since the body tends to eat platelets rather rapidly. These donations kept Evan and keep many others alive. It's truly lifesaving giving."

While Lisa says the recovery process is long for aplastic anemia, she adds that Evan is doing well today. Lisa is grateful to have her son alive and well and is appreciative of those who donated lifesaving blood products.

"People know they are doing something great when they donate, but I wish they could see the faces of the people, sometimes so young, that they save!" she says.

"We have already held our first Bone Marrow and Blood Drive with Hoxworth in hopes of raising awareness and to make sure there are always blood products available for those like Evan who need them. Giving platelets and other blood products literally saved our 6-year-old. We will be forever grateful. Today, Evan is young and strong and has a true warrior spirit!"

Evan Perricelli smiling at camera in a blue shirt