The baby boy whose battle with a rare form of cancer captured the attention of hundreds across the Island, is winning his fight.
Campbell River’s Eli Perry, who spent his first birthday at BC Children’s Hospital, is back home with his family after spending all but three months of his young life in the hospital.
Eli, who turned one in November, came home to Campbell River in mid-December – an early Christmas present for his family.
His aunt, Jodi Perry, said Eli is making strides.
“He is doing very well, with local physicians being able to manage the weekly blood work,” Perry said. “He goes back to Children’s every few weeks for full check ups as he deals with graft-versus-host issues.”
Eli’s latest struggle with graft-versus-host disease is a complication from a bone marrow transplant he received from his younger brother Isaac, who was four-and-a-half at the time of the operation in late August.
The condition occurs when the newly transplanted donor cells attack the recipient’s body, causing abdominal pain, vomiting, dry eyes, jaundice, rash, and fatigue.
Though Eli still needs to be evaluated by doctors at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver at least once a month, a local pediatrician is able to do the needed blood work and connect lines to Eli’s central venous catheter.
Perry said she’s not sure how long Eli’s battle will last, but for now it’s enough just to see him at home with his family.
“All I know for sure is how fantastic it is to see him toddle around after his brothers and sisters and wrestle like every baby boy ought to do,” Perry said.
And Eli has plenty of support.
He comes from a close knit family of seven siblings.
While Eli and his mom stayed at Children’s Hospital, his dad and brothers and sisters stayed behind in Campbell River but travelled to Vancouver nearly every week for visits since Eli was first admitted to hospital.
Eli was diagnosed with a rare form of adult leukemia when he was just three months old.
On Aug. 20, 2012 he received his bone marrow transplant and Eli and his mom went into isolation for 100 days in order to protect Eli from infection.
A bone marrow autopsy in November found no more cancer cells in Eli’s bones.
Eli’s story struck a chord with people who came from around the Island to help support fundraisers for Eli last fall.
On one occasion, people from the Comox Valley, Nanaimo, and Victoria travelled to Campbell River for a barbecue fundraiser at Superstore in early August, and along with local community donors, raised $7,752 for Eli and his family’s medical and travel expenses.