EM:HE Preview 01/23: The Sears Family
In February 2004, Jhyrve was diagnosed with the rare genetic disorder Krabbe Disease, which is caused by an enzyme deficiency. Her only chance of survival was to receive a new treatment in which she'd be given a cord blood transplant at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina.
So in March 2004, Jhyrve relocated cross-country with her mother, Karen, to start treatment. After undergoing rounds of chemotherapy and then receiving her cord blood transplant, Jhyrve has spent the last several months recovering and rebuilding her immune system. Although the transplant was successful, the doctors at Duke would not let her go home to California until the mold infestation that threatened her weakened immune system had been removed from the home.
Jhyrve, 17, and her mom have been living in North Carolina, paying rent at an apartment close to the hospital while still paying mortgage on their unoccupied house in California. Karen had to leave her job as a teacher's aide to be with her sick daughter. The financial stress put on the family has left no money to fix up their home, while the emotional stress of not knowing when or even if they will return home continues to haunt them.
Meanwhile, near Oakland, California, Jhyrve's 14-year-old brother, Lucas Sears, missed his mother at his eighth grade graduation but understands that she must stay in North Carolina with his sister until the house is fixed. In the last year, Karen has spent a mere six weeks with her growing son. For Jhyrve too, the hardest part has been being away from her friends and her younger brother.