In baby Ava’s hour of need, her big sister Lily bravely stepped up to help her.
Little Ava Thomas was born with a rare and incurable genetic condition and her only hope of long-term survival was a bone marrow transplant. When doctors identified her 10-year-old sister, Lily, as a matching donor, the brave youngster didn’t need to be asked twice. “Of course!” she said without hesitation. Seeing the sisters together, it is clear that little Ava already adores her older sibling. But at 23 months, Ava does not yet understand how lucky she is to have Lily watching over her.
Coming To Ava’s Aid
The girls’ proud parents Lina and Alex were not surprised with Lily’s agreement to help without any second thoughts. “The more you get to know Lily, the more you realise you would not expect anything less from her,” says dad Alex. “She’s got a heart of gold.” At 10 weeks, Ava was diagnosed with Mucopolysaccharidosis type 1 (MPS 1), a disorder detected in newborns that attacks many parts of the body, and can cause severe deformities, as well as developmental delays and a decline in intellectual function.
Watching the disease take effect is heartbreaking for parents and siblings, as the affected children often lose their personality. However, in Ava’s case, doctors warned that without a bone marrow transplant, she was unlikely to reach her 10th birthday – which would leave Lily, Caleb, 12, and Micah, seven, without their youngest sister.
Little Ava is progressing well after Lily’s bone marrow donation.
While Ava’s early diagnosis has proven key to helping her pull through, it was Lily who was there to help her in her greatest hour of need. After the donation, Lily wasted no time in heading to Ava’s room, where she could watch her bone marrow work its way into Ava’s tiny body through an IV drip. “She was so happy that she was saving her little sister,” says Alex of his fearless daughter.
Today Ava wears a spinal cast to assist with her development, but she refuses to let anything hold her back from exploring the world. And while she requires regular visits to a speech therapist, a physiotherapist, her cardiologist and an oncologist – among other medical experts – the youngster’s progress continues to delight all those who know and love her. “She’s brave and she’ll keep fighting,” says mum Lina, who has Lily to thank for saving her little girl.