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Ventura County Star Article on Hailey and the Event

HOPE FOR HAILEY

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Simi baby may need blood, bone marrow

By Marjorie Hernandez, mhernandez@VenturaCountyStar.com
February 21, 2007

Fraternal twins Hailey Joy and Ryan are true miracle babies, said their mother, Maria Kent.

After nine miscarriages, Kent and her husband, Rick, became parents again after a surrogate agreed to carry the couple's embryos.



The babies were born about six weeks premature June 6 at a Redlands hospital, and the Kents, who also have a daughter, Heather, 20, were excited to return to their Simi Valley home when the babies were released 15 days later.

Now the Kents are praying for another miracle. Doctors diagnosed Hailey Joy with acute lymphocytic leukemia, or ALL, on Oct. 4 and are looking for blood and bone marrow donors for the 8-month-old girl.

Today at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, a team of doctors will extract spinal fluid from Hailey Joy and run tests. She will also go through a bone marrow biopsy and a round of chemotherapy, Maria Kent said.

"She's been such a trouper," Kent said Monday. "She is such a happy baby, but with the chemotherapy, she sometimes gets fussy. It has been hard on her."

Hailey Joy was diagnosed after Maria Kent rushed her to a Tarzana emergency room. She said Hailey had a fever of 99 degrees and was vomiting.

"I thought it was just a normal baby virus," Maria Kent said. "I never would have guessed this."

Because of her diagnosis, Hailey Joy started chemotherapy treatments at Childrens Hospital the next day and has had several blood transfusions since. By the end of October, doctors declared that Hailey Joy was in remission. But on the Kents' visit to the hospital Feb. 12, doctors found more leukemia cells, Maria Kent said.

Rick Kent said doctors told them that only one in 19 million infants is diagnosed with advanced leukemia.

Several donor events are already in the works for blue-eyed Hailey Joy. Since her blood is the rarer O negative, the family is asking interested donors to contact Leukemia & Lymphoma Society campaign manager Amber McCarty at 201-7150 or Children's Hospital at 323-660-2450.

There is also a planned blood drive in May in Calabasas and a bone marrow donor event March 24 in Simi Valley, McCarty said.

Those interested in learning if they could be a positive bone marrow match for Hailey Joy or other leukemia patients should also call McCarty to register for the donor events.

"It will be a few weeks to a month before doctors will know if Hailey Joy will actually need a bone marrow transplant," McCarty said.

"Right now, we are trying to be vigilant; that way, if she needs one, there will be a ready donor available."

The Kents' friends in the acting community are also lending a hand. Before Hailey Joy was diagnosed with ALL, she and her brother appeared in "Grey's Anatomy," "Medium" and "Standoff."

On July 13, child actors from the soap opera "General Hospital" will host a luau to raise money for leukemia patients at the Sportsmen's Lodge, 12825 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit Hailey Joy's treatment. There will also be a bone marrow sign-up at the event.

Rick Kent, who rides Harley-Davidson motorcycles, is also planning a "love ride" to raise money for his daughter.

Maria Kent, who worked as a surgical assistant at a doctor's office in Thousand Oaks, is now focused on taking care of the twins and getting Hailey Joy to her treatments. Rick Kent, who worked as a construction project manager, recently lost his job and is looking for another position.

At their two-story home in Simi Valley, Maria Kent rocked older twin Ryan while Maria Kent's sister Debra Nichols cradled Hailey Joy in her arms.

"It's definitely been very hard," Maria Kent said. "We're hanging on to faith, but our biggest fear is losing her. But she's our little miracle and we're not going to give up."

A fund has been established for Hailey Joy Kent at Washington Mutual. The account number for donations is 3134043615, or call McCarty.

haileyandmaria.jpg

James Glover II / Star staff
 
Maria Kent hugs her daughter Hailey Joy Kent in their Simi Valley home. Hailey Joy may need bone marrow for a transplant.

haileyandmaria2.jpg

 
James Glover II / Star staff

Eight-month-old Hailey Joy Kent smiles as her mother, Maria Kent, kisses her. Hailey Joy has leukemia and her family is looking for blood and bone marrow donors for her. She is undergoing chemotherapy.

TO HELP
The family is asking interested O negative blood donors to contact Leukemia & Lymphoma Society campaign manager Amber McCarty at 201-7150 or Childrens Hospital at 323-660-2450.

A bone marrow donor event is scheduled for March 24 in Simi Valley. Those interested in registering for the bone marrow donor list are asked to call McCarty.

A fund has been established for Hailey Joy Kent at Washington Mutual. The account number for donations is 3134043615, or call McCarty.