Meet Gwendolyn Ihm, Typical 5-Year-Old
Gwendolyn Ihm is a typical five-year old: energetic, funny, outgoing and stubborn. She has an older sister and brother with whom she loves to play and whether they’re engaged in computer games or running around the park, Gwendolyn always seems to be happy. But there’s one thing that sets her apart: she’s a survivor.
Gwendolyn was initially diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at 2 months of age. Following conventional chemotherapy she achieved remission and completed her therapy in September 2006. Unfortunately, eight months later the leukemia returned and Gwendolyn was back to fighting her toughest battle.
Gwendolyn faced chemotherapy again. Her journey was complicated by life-threatening infections that required her to be on a ventilator. A bone marrow transplant was her only chance at long-term survival. Since her siblings weren’t a match, an unrelated donor was identified through the National Marrow Donor Program registry. Gwendolyn received her fully HLA-matched hematopoietic stem cell transplant in October 2007.
“We have been simply amazed and most grateful for her recovery,” says her father, Brian. Looking back at the transplant process, Brian doesn’t forget the helping hand his daughter received. “Gwendolyn’s donor is our hero. She is alive today because of the kindness of a stranger. What a wonderworld this is,” he says.
Now, Gwendolyn is fortunate to attend The Morgan Center, a preschool that provides a safe learning environment for children with cancer. “It’s the only school of its kind, says Brian. “She gets to be like all other little children.”
We would like to thank and credit BMTinfonet.org and photographer Edward Cox, Massapequa, NY.