GF teen has to postpone Make-A-Wish trip
A Grand Forks teenager battling leukemia has postponed her Make-A-Wish Foundation cruise to Mexico because of a medical setback. Scott Dvorak said his daughter Brittany, 15, recently was notified by the foundation that her wish was granted to tak...
A Grand Forks teenager battling leukemia has postponed her Make-A-Wish Foundation cruise to Mexico because of a medical setback.
Scott Dvorak said his daughter Brittany, 15, recently was notified by the foundation that her wish was granted to take a family cruise and swim with dolphins in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The weeklong vacation was scheduled to begin on Valentine's Day.
But she's been in Altru Hospital since Sunday, and her low blood counts mean she can't go on the trip, Dvorak said. "We're not canceling it, we're just putting it on hold for now," he said.
Doctors recommended postponing the trip Tuesday because Brittany needs time for her body to naturally boost its white blood cell count. Low red blood cell and platelet counts can be increased by blood transfusions, Dvorak said, "but you can't do that with white blood cells" that fight off infections and help the body heal.
"Going on a trip is not advised right now because of exposure to other people who could be sick or something like that when you don't have anything in your body to fight off a cold or flu or anything else," he said.
Dvorak said her low counts have made it hard for her body to even heal a couple of paper cuts. Brittany went to Altru on Sunday because she had a fever and has stayed in isolation there while undergoing frequent blood checks, getting medicine and having a blood transfusion Tuesday.
Dvorak and his wife, Julie, knew a setback could force them to postpone the trip that was Brittany's chance to "get away from everything" and relax. She was diagnosed with T-cell ALL, a form of leukemia, in October 2008.
They mentioned it to her Monday to try to "ease the blow" just in case, he said, but it still wasn't easy to hear the bad news.
"That's pretty hard because this is something that was supposed to be a fun time," Dvorak said.
Brittany will be in the hospital until at least today or could have to stay longer, depending on her blood counts. Dvorak said she's handling it well and is a strong person, but it's still hard to stay cooped up in a room.
"Right now, we're just hanging out trying to burn time and play some Wii and go on the laptop and watch some TV and sleep," he said. "There's only so much you can do in a hospital room."
Brittany's doctors from the Mayo Clinic facilities in Rochester, Minn., are advising Altru doctors on Brittany's treatment. Dvorak said they've also told them if her blood counts don't go up, she may need to have a bone marrow test.
The family is hopeful they can reschedule the trip for sometime in spring or summer, but Dvorak said they'll have to see what happens because Brittany's disease has a mind of its own.
"It's very hard to know that far ahead of time when you schedule it," he said. "We didn't expect something like this. It's very hard to judge when it comes to medical issues and blood counts because everybody is different and there's no handbook."
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