Boise girl with rare disease celebrates a healthy eight-year anniversary of experimental treatment
Gripping a talking plastic picture-book in her grandmother’s home Monday, Annabelle Green’s toy selection probably qualified as a little primitive for a 10 year old. Then again, during their first decade on earth, most 10 year olds hadn't accompl Video by IdahoOnYourSide.comvideo
Gripping a talking plastic picture-book in her grandmother’s home Monday, Annabelle Green’s toy selection probably qualified as a little primitive for a 10 year old. Then again, during their first decade on earth, most 10 year olds hadn't accomplished or overcome as much as this little girl from Boise.
“We’re very grateful for her well-being right now,” Annabelle's grandmother and primary caretaker, Christine Barrietua, said.
Eight years ago to the day, Monday, Annabelle lay in a hospital bed at Duke University - her hair the victim of chemotherapy, her body the recipient of an experiment stem-cell transplant, she with a 70 percent chance of death.
“If we didn’t try something,” Barrietua said, “then she would die from Sanfelippo syndrome.”
Most battling that disease find themselves in a wheelchair and eating from a tube by the age of 7. Annabelle – running and leaping and sliding, Monday, around a playground near her grandmother’s home – turned 10 in December.
“Right now,” Barrietua said, “she’s just fantastically healthy.”
Life rarely presents an opportunity to identify explicit success. These days, it seems like Annabelle Green’s family gets that rarest of opportunities on a daily basis: The treatment worked. Recently, doctors found no signs of sickness and took Annabelle off her meds. And soon – for the first time in her life – Annabelle will begin school with other children.
“She is loving,” Barrietua said. “She is fun. She bubbles with joy and happiness.”
“There are no children to tell us what is going to happen or what was going to happen,” Annabelle’s mother, Jennifer Loves, said. “Annabelle is the pioneer.”
And for that reason, doctors and teachers and even family struggle to predict her future.
“It will be a challenge for her,” Loves said.
Annabelle’s younger brother and sister remain relatively oblivious to her condition.
“I love my sister Annabelle,” 5-year-old Jonah said, Monday.
But someday, a sit-down chat will have to tell Jonah and Maia, 7, of fear and hope and perseverance, of modern medicine and progress and reality.
Annabelle will never become completely self-sufficient. But her teacher does see reason to hope.
“There are things she picks up that you were not even expecting,” developmental therapist Lynette Hubbard said.
Eight years ago, Annabelle’s grandmother wasn't expecting to ever see her granddaughter off to school – a feat she calls impossible without donations from the community that made the experimental treatment possible.
“They were very giving and gracious,” Barrietua said, “and we did it.”
Family is never convenient. Annabelle still faces a lifetime of challenge and sickness. But those who care for her say she repays the time and nursing it costs to help her along with lessons in unconditional love.