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Donations sought to help ailing Boonsboro woman

January 21, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Donations sought to help ailing Boonsboro woman

Donna Harley had given up.

The 41-year-old Boonsboro resident has been fighting serious blood disease for more than two years.

She's had more than 275 blood transfusions. Harley has red cell aplasia, says Dr. Hind Hamdan, a hematologist and oncologist practicing in Hagerstown.

Harley's bone marrow is not making new red blood cells.

Harley had immunotherapy - infusions of medications - but that treatment failed, Hamdan says.

From Nov. 17 through Dec. 23, Harley was in Baltimore having chemotherapy treatments at Johns Hopkins.

High doses of the drug cytoxan were administered to shut down her bone marrow for a while to allow stem cells to recover so that the bone marrow will start making red cells, Hamdan says.

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"It's a waiting game," says Russell Palmer, Harley's fiance, one of the people who is not willing to let her stop fighting for her life.

Hamdan confirms that it often takes a couple of months to know if the treatment has been effective.

Meanwhile, Harley requires supportive care - weekly blood tests, some transfusions and injections to stimulate the bone marrow to produce the red blood cells.

She also requires medication to control the amount of iron in her blood. Having too much iron becomes a disease of its own, Hamdan says.

Harley's health insurance coverage from a previous marriage will end soon.

Palmer isn't sure what the medical bills will total. He was off work without pay while he and Harley stayed in an apartment during her nearly monthlong treatment in Baltimore. He's sold parts of his car, and his mother has borrowed money to help them.

"We were lucky," Palmer says, despite Harley's condition. They met people whose situations were worse. "It made us appreciate a lot of things we didn't appreciate," he says.

A donation account has been set up in Harley's name at Farmers & Merchants Bank & Trust at 231 N. Main St. in Boonsboro. Donations can be made at other F&M branches.

For information, call 301-432-5504.

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