‘Bubble’ and bone marrow transplant save toddler’s life

Danette Dooley danette@nl.rogers.com
Published on November 6, 2013
Logan Hickey, at age 2, in his isolation room/bubble at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital.
— Submitted photo

Cindy Hickey had no idea when she took her young son to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital in April 2012 that Logan’s anticipated weeklong visit would turn into a stay that would last more than five months — with the toddler spending the entire time in “a bubble” as doctors worked to save his life.

Logan is now three years old. His health problems began just after his first birthday when bacteria entered his blood stream.

The rash caused by the bacteria eventually cleared.

However, Logan was still getting sick and had numerous admissions to the Janeway in just a few months.

Doctors were concerned about the child’s bloodwork and referred him to Sick Kids.

Cindy believed they’d stay there for about a week.

Further tests turned one week into several weeks.

Cindy’s husband, Corey Hickey, and the couple’s older son, Jayden, who is now five years old, came to stay with the family for a week.

It was during that time that the couple was told Logan had a rare immune deficiency and would need a bone marrow transplant to survive.

The family was also told that Logan’s stay at Sick Kids could be for up to a year.

“So when Daddy and Jayden came in April, they didn’t go back,” Cindy says.

Logan was placed in what Cindy refers to as a “bubble” — a germ-free isolation room.

“Only three people were allowed to go see him: myself, my husband and my mom (Brenda Comeford). Jayden wasn’t even allowed on the ward, so they didn’t see each from April 1 when myself and Logan left Newfoundland until the day he got discharged (Sept. 27).”

Logan spent four months in the bubble before undergoing a bone marrow transplant Aug. 23 — four days before his second birthday.

He was also placed back into the bubble for more than a month after the transplant.

“Whenever we went into the room we had to wear a mask, gown, gloves, booties and a hat.  There was a crib and a plastic chair that would fold out into a bed, and a television,” Cindy says.

Logan was allowed some toys once they were sterilized.

The family was also given a laptop for the room.

Although he was only two years old, Logan had a favourite hockey team. Like his dad and older brother, (and unlike Mom, who cheers for the Toronto Maple Leafs) Logan is a Montreal Canadiens fan.

When a friend brought Logan a big poster of the Habs, his parents asked the medical staff for permission to have the poster sterilized so it could be given to Logan.

As the weeks turned to months, the child became a serious Habs fan. He watched games and videos with his dad on the laptop and became infatuated with his team.

It was a great diversion from what he was going through, his mother says.

“There was a song, ‘Felt Like ’93,’ about Montreal winning the cup and it was played over and over and over again on You-Tube.  Logan just loved it,” Cindy says.

Logan also knows the names of his favourite Habs players: Carey Price and P.K. Subban.

During this interview at the family’s home in St. John’s, Logan and Jayden are playing with “Roary” bears that they recently received from the Children’s Wish Foundation.

Because Jayden is being treated for the same inherited immune deficiency as his brother and may also require a bone marrow transplant, both boys have been approved for wishes.

Jayden wants to go to Disneyland and Legoland.

He has no trouble talking about what he’s looking forward to doing once he gets to Florida.

“I’m going to get on the rides and in the cars that go down the ramps. And I’m going on the water ride. And there’s a dragon. He’s a roller coaster. I’m getting on it. I might get in the front.”

When asked about his brother’s wish, Jayden says, “Montreal.”

Logan is intent on going to a Habs game and meeting his two favourite players, the boys’ mother says.

The Children’s Wish Foundation says it will turn both boys’ dreams into reality.

As Jayden chats about the wishes, Logan stays still long enough to catch a little of the conversation.

“Me, a hockey stick,” he says when asked what he’s going to say when he meets the Habs.

“His bedtime story now is always about going on the ice and asking Carey for a hockey stick,” Cindy laughs.

As his immune system builds, Logan continues to wear a mask over his mouth and nose to protect him from germs when he leaves home.

Both boys are followed closely by doctors at the Janeway and at Sick Kids.

Looking back on her son’s wait for a transplant, Cindy says it’s surreal what the family has gone through.

Both Cindy and Corey left their jobs when Logan became sick.

Cindy has gone back to work part-time at The Children’s Place.

Corey, who works for Power Vac-Balfor, returned to his job this spring, after a year’s leave of absence.

Cindy says her family is grateful to the doctors at the Janeway and at Sick Kids as well as to Ronald McDonald House in Toronto, where the family stayed while Logan was in Sick Kids.

She also appreciates the help her family received from family and friends throughout her son’s illness and is excited that the Children’s Wish Foundation has approved both boys’ wishes.

Since 1986, the Children’s Wish Foundation in this province has granted more than 700 wishes.

The average cost of a wish is $10,000.

The goal this year is to make wishes come true for 48 children aged 3-17 with life-threatening illnesses.

There is one person this family will likely never meet, but Cindy becomes emotional when she thinks about what this stranger has given her family – a chance to see their boy grow up; a chance for Jayden to be a big brother; a chance for Logan to be a healthy, happy child.

“Logan’s donor was a man from Toronto who’d registered with One Match (Stem Cell and Marrow Registry). He was a perfect match. He saved Logan’s life.”

• • •

The 28th annual Children’s Wish Foundation’s Radiothon takes place Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on VOCM radio. Donations can be made live on air by calling 738-4446 or toll-free at 1-877-738-4446. Donations can also be made online at www.childrenswish.ca/nl/radiothon.

For more information on the One Match Stem Cell and Morrow Registry visit www.onematch.ca.