Brewer dessert benefit to aid baby with rare blood disorder

Posted May 18, 2009, at 9:55 p.m.

BREWER, Maine — When Maggie Rudnicki was born at 8:49 a.m. on Aug. 19, she was a little underweight at 6½ pounds, but otherwise was perfectly healthy and beautiful, her mother, Lauren Rudnicki, said Monday.

“I may be a little bit biased,” she said.

After a month at home, however, everything changed when Maggie became sick and was diagnosed with diamond blackfan anemia, a rare blood disorder that causes her bone marrow to fail.

“She doesn’t produce any red blood cells,” her mom said.

Maggie’s treatment is blood transfusions every two to three weeks, and a special formula.

“She’s had 14 transfusions so far and the 15th one is this week,” Rudnicki said.

Maggie is the granddaughter of Brewer education technician Bernadette Rudnicki, who works at Washington Street School and is a longtime member of the Brewer Education Association. The BEA is hosting a dessert buffet and silent auction 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at Brewer High School to benefit the young family.

“The medical expenses … have been burdensome,” a BEA press release states. “The family has endured a surgery, infections, many lab tests, and trips to doctors in Portland and New York City.”

In fact, next week Maggie and her parents will travel to New York to meet with a nationally recognized diamond blackfan anemia specialist, Lauren Rudnicki said.

“There is no cure for the disease,” she said. “She could have a bone marrow transplant in a few years to solve the anemia … but it’s also a big risk.

“We’re actually very lucky because a lot of kids who have it also have other problems,” Rudnicki said.

When Maggie turns a year old, “we will introduce steroids to see if they can kick her bone marrow into gear and get it to start producing some red cells,” Lauren wrote on a blog created by her and her husband, Andrew, to keep friends and family up to date about their daughter.

When Rudnicki heard the BEA was holding a benefit for her family, she was surprised, and said Monday that she is very grateful.

“We’re fortunate to have really supportive friends and family,” she said. “It’s been hard, but … it has made us realize how precious everything is.”

With the constant replenishing of her blood, the outlook for Maggie is positive, her mom said.

“She’s a strong little thing,” she said.

Those who want to learn more may visit Maggie’s blog, www.caringbridge.org/visit/maggierudnicki.

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