Hannah Hannum – Leukemia

Girl Testimonial

Hannah Hannum is a young cancer patient who can, within minutes, put a smile across the people she meets. Hannah was 2 years old when she was diagnosed with Leukemia.

Her story is every parent’s worst nightmare. Hannah’s family never thought it could happen to them.

There were no warning signs. There was nothing out of the ordinary the first few years of her life. Her family had no idea there had been anything wrong.

When she was 2 and had her picture taken – with her long flowing hair – her mother noticed the outward corners of her eyes turned suspiciously upward. At first, her mother, Holly, thought her daughter may have down syndrome.

After having a persistent ear infection that would not get better and several bruises appearing on her legs – her mother took her daughter to see their local pediatrician.

From an early morning appointment to check an ear infection that would not get better, the family was referred immediately to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. By the evening, Hannah’s family learned their child had Leukemia.

Holly Hannah says, “I never thought it would happen to us. This happens to other people. She was a perfect baby and never had any problems. I couldn’t believe that she had cancer.”

At UPMC Children's Hospital, physician-scientists are manipulating cord blood stem cells in hopes of shortening the time it takes for platelets in cord blood to find a home in the recipient’s marrow. They believe that by giving an enriched cord blood product to patients, their platelets will come back more quickly after transplant. The use of umbilical cord blood in transplant is another area of focus at UPMC Children’s. Cord blood is used the same way bone marrow is in transplant, except that a perfect match is not necessary for cord blood transplantation to attain the same positive outcome.

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