On Saturday, March 24, 2007, our little angel surprised us arriving 4 weeks before her due date. Two weeks prior, we learned that Chloe had duodenal atresia, aka “double bubble”, which is a blockage in the intestines and was to be treated at the University of Maryland Medical Center. During these tests, we also learned that Chloe had Down Syndrome.
After giving birth, I was only able to briefly glance at my sweet daughter’s tiny face before she was whisked away to the University of Maryland Medical Center, an hour away from where she was born. Thankfully, Chloe’s surgery was very successful! After six long weeks in the neonatal unit recovering, she was finally released to go home.
Chloe’s older brother, Sammy, was anxiously awaiting his baby sister’s arrival home! Despite the numerous follow-up doctors appointments and regular therapy visits associated with Chloe’s Down Syndrome, we finally fell into the routine of life and were enjoying our new family!
On Sunday, February 17, 2008, Chloe contracted a fever that lasted longer than 4 days. Blood tests were drawn to determine why Chloe was not recovering. Doctors first discovered that Chloe’s platelets were dangerously low. After further tests were conducted, Chloe was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), on Monday, February 25, 2008, just one month before her first birthday.
Research has shown, that children with Down Syndrome have a higher risk of developing Leukemia. Evidentially, children with Down Syndrome also have higher success rates responding to chemotherapy. Therefore, Chloe was enrolled in a study at Johns Hopkins Hospital with children, who have Down Syndrome, who were diagnosed with Leukemia, and were less than four years old. The study was designed to administer fewer doses of certain chemotherapy drugs to limit the long term side effects. Chloe’s treatment consists of six rounds of chemotherapy with each round lasting at least 28 days.
Chloe is a stupendous patient! Despite, the pricking and prodding, the endless rounds of chemo, and the sleepless nights, Chloe always maintained a bright and cheerful persona! She projects an energy, which is like a magnet drawing people from all over to glance at her beaming contagious smile!
Despite the fact that Chloe was on isolation throughout the duration of her treatments at Hopkins, Chloe still made friends with other children, family members and medical professionals. People passing by her window would catch a glimpse of Chloe’s radiant smile and playful energy and would stop by for a friendly greeting through her glass window.
Chloe completed her final cycle of Chemotherapy on Wednesday, September 3, 2008 and is currently in remission. She returns to Hopkins once a month for routine blood counts.
In honor of Chloe’s bright smile and perseverance, Chloe’s family founded Chloe’s Cause. The vision of Chloe’s Cause is to share Chloe’s inspiration by increasing the awareness of Down Syndrome and Leukemia, while connecting families to the resources available to them so they can persevere through these obstacles.
Thank you for your interest in Chloe’s story and for supporting a wonderful foundation.
Dean and Robyn Coccia