RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – Instead of going back to school, a Rio Rancho girl is fighting for her life after being diagnosed with a rare disease. Now, the family is asking the community for help.
“She has HLH. That is, basically, the autoimmune system attacks its own self,” says Rachel Reynolds.
Reynolds says her daughter, Sammie, was a healthy and active 12-year old who was getting ready to start the school year at Rio Rancho Middle School. “Sammie just graduated out of fifth grade, excited to go to sixth grade,” Reynolds says.
During a summer vacation to California with her older sisters, Sammie developed a fever that wouldn’t let up. “About Gallup, they said her fever’s really high. I said just get her home,” Reynolds says.
That’s when Reynolds took Sammie to the Emergency Room at Presbyterian Rust Medical Center. “They gave us antibiotics. Told us it was a urinary tract infection, here’s some antibiotics, you’ll be fine,” she says.
Sammie’s condition never improved. Reynolds says her daughter stopped eating and would sleep a lot more than usual. “After 10 days she’s not getting any better. She had lost 13 lbs in 15 days,” she says.
After going back to the hospital, Sammie was diagnosed with Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis. It’s a rare disease that most patients don’t survive.
“Without a bone marrow transplant, 100% of the kids with this disease will die,” says Reynolds.
Reynolds says Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is the leader in treating HLH and they’re hoping to raise enough money to send Sammie there for treatment.
“I just really, really feel like we’re going to beat this. We’re going to get through this,” says Reynolds.
Right now, Sammie is undergoing chemotherapy to prepare her for a bone marrow transplant. The family has an appointment at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital next month.