By Elizabeth Keys
STILLWATER, Okla. —
In a fight for his life at this time last year, 8-year-old Gabe Waters returned to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pa., this week for his one-year checkup after undergoing chemotherapy treatments and a stem cell transplant.
“It’s the only place in the country that treats Gabe’s diagnosis with metachromatic leukodystrophy disease,” said his mother Amy Waters.
Just before entering first grade at Skyline Elementary School, the family learned about Gabe Waters’ rare degenerative cell disease that affects his brain, nervous system and muscle control.
The genetic disorder occurs because the body is lacking an enzyme necessary to form the coating that protects the nerves in the brain and central nervous system, as well as throughout the body.
The treatment offered was an umbilical cord transplant from an unrelated donor which was completed a year ago at the hospital in Pennsylvania.
“This disease results in the nerves no longer being able to send appropriate signals for the body to work as it should,” Waters said. “MLD is a progressively degenerating disease and as of now there is no cure.”
Expenses for the family have mounted through the challenge with the child’s dad, Mike, helping at home, along with his three sisters.
A Flapjack Fundraiser is scheduled Sunday to help the family. Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, 317 N. Perkins Road, will host the breakfast from 7-10 a.m. Tickets are $7 per person with no cost for children under 2. All proceeds will benefit the Gabe Waters Fund.
Gabe Waters will continue with homebound schooling while his immunity is challenged through the rehabilitation and recovery process.
Although the damage already done from MLD can’t be repaired, the transplant created new stem cells to produce the enzymes he needs to stop the progression of the disease.
“We hope he will still have a bright future,” his mother said.
For information about the fundraiser, contact Judy German, 405-377-7508; Amanda Moody, 405-612-2807, or Amy Waters, 405-612-8226.