LAKE WALES, Fla. - A viewer from Frostproof sent us an email alerting us to a life and death situation facing a little girl from Lake Wales. I investigated the social media campaign growing around the girl and uncovered a way we can all take action to help save her life.
McKenzie Clayton, a 7-year-old, can pop a 10-foot bull whip like a pro.
The spirited child from Lakes Wales loves skinning hogs, gigging frogs and riding tractors. She's a country girl and the love of Donna Whitaker's life. But mom is afraid "that she's going to die. She asked me the other day was she going to die, and I told her I didn't know."
McKenzie has a blood and bone marrow disease, the same as Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, Myelodyplastic Syndrome. Her mom explains, “Her cells, she makes the white, red and platelets. They are baby cells and they're supposed to grow up with you. They're called blasts. They're not growing. They're just dying."
McKenzie's life is now a dizzying whirlwind of tests, injections, and blood transfusions. This continuous cycle is keeping her alive, temporarily, but she needs a bone marrow transplant and a bone marrow donor. Her mother says, “We got Sierra tested because she was a 35 percent chance that she'd be a match but she wasn't. I got tested.”
Next door neighbor Lora Donely set up a Facebook page ( www.facebook.com/McKinzesCrusade ) and begged others to get tested too. "Right now, I would say go to BeTheMatch.org ( www.bethematch.org ). That is the number one dire need for McKenzie, to find a bone marrow match.”
Her mother says testing is not as hard as people might think. “You get four swabs, they swab your mouth. Two months later it goes into a bank."
So far, no one in that international bank has been the perfect match, so the family waits for some stranger to pop up somewhere in the world.
Despite the infectious laugh, waiting brings on such a lonely feeling. McKenzie’s mother wants everyone to know, “Don’t be afraid. Just, you know, somebody is going to save her life and if its not her, there's tons of kids out there her age who need a bone marrow transplant. And a lot of them die waiting."
Here's what you can do to take action for this little girl or another one just like her. Go to BeTheMatch.org ( www.bethematch.org ) and follow their instructions on how and where to get tested.
The expense of going back and forth to both Orlando and Tampa for blood transfusions is taking a toll. Dad is a loader on a farm in Lake Wales and mom is at home with the kids. Their neighbor is holding a yard sale on January 26 to raise funds. More information can be found at http://www.facebook.com/McKinzesCrusade .
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We're taking action tonight for a well deserving group of Tampa athletes. They call themselves the Thunder and they've stormed onto the soccer scene - putting enough points up to make it all the way to a national competition.