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Democrat File Photo by Fred Stabbert III

LAUREN HUGHSON, 10, of Jeffersonville enjoys some time with a young alpaca near her home. The little girl is recovering from a bone marrow transplant.

Local Child Needs
Help of Community

By Jeanne Sager
JEFFERSONVILLE — November 23, 2001 – Diane Hughson wouldn’t trade her hometown for any other in the world.
For the second time in the past ten years, the Village of Jeffersonville is rallying around Hughson and her daughter, Lauren, 10, in their time of need.
Shortly after Lauren entered the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to undergo a bone marrow transplant, family friend Mary Head was reviving a fund used in 1991 to help the Hughsons pay for costly cancer treatments.
Head has been dropping jars throughout Jeffersonville and Callicoon over the past several days, hoping to raise some money for the youngster’s medical bills.
When the jars fill up, the money will be pulled out and placed in an account in the First National Bank of Jeffersonville.
The account, actually set up ten years ago when a cancerous tumor was found on baby Lauren’s spine, still exists at the Jeff Bank.
And some of the difficult treatments which that account first funded have left their unfortunate mark on the Sullivan West/Jeffersonville fifth grader, leaving her with mylodisplasia syndrome.
The disease means Lauren has an extremely low white blood cell count as well as low hemoglobin and platelets.
By November 2000, the child was beginning to bruise frequently, sending her worried parents to doctors for answers.
According to Diane, tests showed the girl’s chromosomes had been altered.
“There is no treatment for this,” Diane said. “The only option is to have a bone marrow transplant.”
When Diane and husband Jim searched for money to help cover the cost of tests to find a bone marrow match for their daughter, they found that the old Jeff Bank account, though dormant for a decade, was still open and gaining interest.
“We do have insurance, thank God, but we’ve been told not everything will be covered,” Diane explained. “We got a bill from the hospital for $3,400 for bone marrow tests to find a match.”
So far, insurance has agreed to pay just $1,500 of that bill.
The company, did, however, agree to pay for the treatment, and though the Hughson’s other daughter, Jamie, 11, failed to come back as a match, the necessary bone marrow was obtained through an anonymous source.
Lauren entered the hospital Nov. 5 to begin eight days of chemotherapy treatments to prepare her for the bone marrow transplant.
Doctors inserted a line into the youngster Friday, replacing her bone marrow with that of the anonymous donor.
Now all the family can do is wait and hope.
Lauren will not even be able to leave her hospital room until her white blood cell count rises because of the risk of infection in the hospital hallways.
Her mother makes the trip to Philadelphia frequently to spend time with the girl, and Jim and Jamie make the long trip each Sunday.
Lauren’s aunt, Kathy Herbert, has also come to the family’s aid, standing by at the hospital to keep Lauren entertained.
Tutors are the only other non-medical people who are allowed to frequent the room, to make sure Lauren is keeping up with her classmates back in Jeffersonville.
Once the child is cleared to leave the hospital — which Diane is hopeful will happen before Christmas — she will have to remain out of school for the remainder of the year.
But while Diane, owner of Too Good to Be Threw on Route 52 in Jeffersonville, spends her time in Philadelphia, medical bills are mounting.
To help with those costs, Head hopes the jars will be filled by local folks in the mood for some holiday giving.
“Lauren’s such a little doll, and she’s been through so much,” Head said. “I just thought this is one thing I could do to help.”
The gesture is one that has reminded Diane why she enjoys living in a small town, she said.
“We live in a small town and sometimes it seems like it would be a bad thing, but everywhere I go, people ask about her,” Diane said. “It makes you feel good to see how many people care.
“I wouldn’t trade living here for anything.”

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