It's a tough time for little Parker

"Parker Flitcroft is a baby who loves to dance.All you have to do is put on some music, says his mother, Lisa, and the little guy starts bopping around. But Parker isn't dancing much these days.Instead, the Whidbey toddler is battling infection and fighting for his life in a Seattle hospital, following a bone marrow transplant last Friday. And his parents, Lisa and Ed Flitcroft, are facing a growing mountain of medical bills, trying to keep their baby alive.For the Flitcrofts, there's no other choice. Parker has rare and deadly disease called osteopetrosis. It afflicts fewer than 40 babies a year in the United States.Osteopetrosis thickens the bones, shrinks the canals that carry networks of nerves through the skull and limits space for the brain to grow. The disease has already irreversibly blinded Parker.And it was only a matter of time, Lisa said last Friday, before it would have taken his hearing, paralyzed his face, caused internal bleeding or taken his life. Studies, she said, show that babies with Osteopetrosis usually don't live past the age of six.His only cure, his only hope is the bone marrow transplant, Lisa said last Friday, hours before the procedure. There are no medications that can be given to him to slow the process down. If it (the transplant) takes, the disease stops, and his bones will actually start thinning.So Parker had his bone marrow transplant, late Friday afternoon, Feb. 18 - 16 days after his first birthday.The Flitcrofts won't know if the transplant takes for a while. They do know the chance of infection and pneumonia have whittled down Parker's chances for survival to about 60 percent.Meanwhile, Parker's parents and four sisters will wait and hope, pray and pay.Insurance can't help any more.The Flitcrofts maxed out their medical insurance policy with the transplant. It cost $200,000, even though Lisa was a perfect match and the donor.And the bills will continue to grow over the next few months.Parker, currently an inpatient at Children's Hospital, will need to remain close to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for the next few months for follow-up treatment, or in the event complications arise.So the Flitcrofts are staying in Seattle with him - Lisa taking a leave of absence from her job at Visible Difference Hair Design, and Ed using up his sick leave and vacation time from his job with Island County's road department.Ed will go back to Whidbey and work after 30 days - the most critical time for Parker.Lisa will stay until she can take Parker home.Then, provided Parker responds to the transplant, the Flitcrofts will have to put new linoleum floors in their home and have the furnace and duct systems cleaned to ward off infection-causing bacteria.More money and more bills not covered by insurance.Right now, we're in the hole $40,000, Lisa said.So far, she figures, the family will need to raise at least $75,000 to cover Parker's medical expenses.There has been help, however.The Fred Hutchinson Assistance Fund has helped by securing lodging for Parker and his parents at the Pete Gross Apartments, near the research center. Designed for bone marrow recipients and donors, the rooms are free and the stay includes a $75 weekly stipend for food.Help has also come from friends on Whidbey, Lisa said.A rummage sale held at the First United Methodist Church in Oak Harbor raised $1,240; a bake sale hosted by InterWest Bank raised another $650. And a friend put a donation can at Kow Korner Drive-In that raised another $371.The Flitcrofts plan to put together a benefit in Oak Harbor, tentatively on May 6, then hold an auction in June. They also hope to put donation cans bearing Parker's picture at selected places around Oak Harbor.In addition, the National Transplant Assistance Fund has opened an account for Parker so that others can make tax-free donations to help pay for his care. The fund accepts credit card donations and checks - The memo section of the check should be filled in: For, or in honor of, Parker Flitcroft.Lisa said the account will stay open for the length of her baby's life.Transplant recipients, she said, need years of testing following the procedure.Normally, Lisa says, Parker's a happy, animated, active little guy. But not now.He had an allergic reaction to chemo and he broke out in hives, Lisa said. And right now, he has mucousitis and can't eat and has to have morphine. He's been pretty miserable, but Parker's a real trooper.''When he's not sick, he's also quite the dancer.He loves music and we have it going all the time, Lisa says. We (she and her husband) ballroom dance with him and my 12-year-old gets him to boogie around to her music. He's a cutie.Parker's hooked up to six wires and two pumps right now. So when he's feeling good enough, his parents hold him in their arms and dance with him gently, slowly, swaying in small, careful arcs.But Lisa Flitcroft plans to dance with her baby at home again. Soon.Day by day, she says. We know it's going to get better.To helpDonations for Parker Flitcroft can be made to:National Transplant Assistance Fund - 6-Brynmawr AvePO Box 258Brynmawr, PA - 190101-800-642-8399The fund accepts credit cars and checks.The memo section of the checks should say: For, or, In honor of, Parker Flitcroft. Donations are tax-deductible "

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