LAMOINE, Maine — Editor's note: The video attached to this story was published Feb. 22, 2021.
Two years ago, we told you about the story of 8-year-old Journey Gartner from Lamoine. Journey, now 10, is battling MSD or myelodysplastic syndrome, a very rare form of blood cancer she was diagnosed with in December 2020.
The only cure for this form of blood cancer is through bone marrow transplant. After many rounds of testing and hoping for a match to donate that much needed bone marrow, her brother Ezra qualified to go through the process and potentially save her life.
Journey's father, David Gartner, told NEWS CENTER Maine she received her first bone marrow transplant from her 2-year-old brother on April 1, 2021, at Boston Children’s Hospital.
But David also shared that Journey relapsed September of 2021. Doctors did a donor lymphocyte infusion (DLI) on December of that same year, but it was unsuccessful.
From there, David said the family was sent to St. Jude Hospital in Memphis in February of last year for a week for more testing and considering other possible avenues to take. In April of 2022, Journey received a second bone marrow transplant. This time it was a half match donor transplant from her father, David.
"Being a donor for her transplant was quite an experience," he said. "She was at St. Jude from March until August. Her cancer was in remission until September 2022."
Doctors in Bangor, Boston, and at St. Jude then found a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan that Journey qualified for.
"Journey was admitted to [Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center] on Oct. 3, two days after getting home from Memorial Sloan Kettering for bridge chemo. She was transported to MSK by LifeFlight of Maine on Nov. 4 and was inpatient until just a few days before Christmas," David said.
Journey received a third transplant in November. Her family is now staying in New York, because Journey has frequent visits with a doctor there.
"They check her blood counts, platelets, electrolytes. The tests help show how the transplant is taking. We’re kind of self-quarantining, due to her being immunocompromised," David explained. "She still is receiving IV nutrition daily. She’s tired most days. If she’s up to it, we may go for a walk."
Friends of the Gartner family have organized a community dinner and fundraiser in hopes to help them out with expenses.
The dinner will happen from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at The Neighborhood House at 1 Kimball Road in Northeast Harbor at Mount Desert Island.
Anyone interested in helping the family can attend the dinner, which will include a silent auction, live music, a bake sale, door prices, and dancing.
The suggested donation is $5 for kids and $15 for adults.
Click here for details to the event.