Girl, 2, battles rare blood disorder; family shares importance of bone marrow donors

Karina Haney is battling an extremely rare blood disorder at just 2 years old. (KKTV)
Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 3:22 PM CDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV/Gray News) - A young girl in a Colorado community is battling a rare blood disorder, and her parents want others to know how bone marrow donation can save a life.

Karina Haney, 2 years old, is like any normal toddler.

“She is the sweetest little girl. The total opposite of our 4-year-old, he’s wild,” Karina’s mother Khloe Haney explained with a chuckle.

However, two months ago something that wasn’t normal took the Haney family by surprise.

On Jan. 17, the family noticed Karina was bruising more easily on her legs. They started to document the oddity, but days after they noticed the bruising there was another red flag.

“She got a bloody nose that just kept bleeding,” Haney explained. “I knew something was off.”

Karina’s parents took her in for testing, and her platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells were shockingly low. On Jan. 23, their little girl had to have her first bone marrow biopsy. Originally, they were told it could be leukemia. They found out days later it was a rare blood disorder called aplastic anemia.

According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, only 300 to 600 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. St Jude’s describes the condition as a type of “bone marrow failure.”

The disorder puts Karina at a very high risk for life-threatening infections, on top of concerns she could have internal bleeding or bleed out from an injury.

The Haneys have been doing everything they can to keep their little girl healthy while juggling a newborn and her older brother. They have to put other parts of their life on hold as they spend the majority of their time traveling from their home to the hospital.

From transfusions to recent scares, the Haneys have been in and out of the hospital regularly. Karina’s father, Adam Haney, was on unpaid work leave as of Tuesday while Khloe Haney continued working from home, explaining her company was very understanding of the news.

“It definitely puts things into perspective,” Khloe Haney said with Karina in her lap. “Before you worry about the little things, you know? Now it’s just like ... none of that matters.”

The Haneys are now faced with a choice.

They have the option to give immunosuppressive therapy a try, which could put the disease into remission, followed by months of waiting to see if it worked. Their other option for Karina is a bone marrow transplant.

Karina’s parents learned they aren’t matches for her, so the bone marrow transplant would be riskier coming from someone who isn’t related.

As the Haneys do what they can, they want to remind others of how critical bone marrow donation can be.

“Have my little pink dot on my license plate to be a donor,” Khloe Haney said, referring to the “donate life” plates offered in some states. “But I didn’t realize you could also sign up to be a bone marrow donor, too.”

Adam Haney also emphasized the importance of signing up to be a donor through the “Be The Match” registry.

“My biggest message: Sign up to be a donor,” he said. “You could save lives.”

Registering through “Be The Match” is simple. Once registered, a swab kit is delivered in the mail that takes little time to complete. Once the kit is sent back, the donor is added to the blood stem cell registry.

While the Haneys continue to decide what is best for their daughter, they estimate that a bone marrow transplant in Colorado, even with insurance, could cost them $250,000. A GoFundMe has been established to help the Haneys with medical expenses.

Khloe Haney previously worked as a reporter for Gray Television station KKTV.