Colorado Springs girl battles rare blood disorder as family shares message on bone marrow donation

Karina Haney is battling an extremely rare blood disorder at just 2 years old.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 6:53 PM MDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2023 at 7:54 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A young girl in the Colorado Springs community is battling a rare blood disorder, and her parents want others to know how bone marrow donation can save a life.

If you were to meet 2-year-old Karina, she’s just like any normal toddler

“She is the sweetest little girl, the total opposite of our 4-year-old, he’s wild,” Karina’s mother Khloe explained with a chuckle.

However, two months ago something that wasn’t normal took the Haney family by surprise. On Jan. 17, the family noticed Karina was bruising more easily on her legs. They started to document the oddity, but days after they noticed the bruising there was another red flag.

“She got a bloody nose that just kept bleeding,” Khloe explained. “I knew something was off.”

Karina’s parents took her in for testing, her platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells were shockingly low. On Jan. 23, their little girl had to have her first bone marrow biopsy. Originally, they were told it could be leukemia. Days later they found out it was a rare blood disorder called aplastic anemia. According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, only 300 to 600 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. St Jude’s describes the condition as a type of “bone marrow failure.” The disorder puts Karina at a very high risk for life-threatening infections, on top of concerns she could have internal bleeding or bleeding out.

The Haneys have been doing everything they can to keep their little girl healthy while juggling a newborn and her older brother. Despite their hands being full, they have to stay clean. The family’s social life was put on hold as they spend the majority of their traveling from home to the hospital. From transfusions to scares involving Karina’s PICC line, the Haneys have been in and out of the hospital regularly. Karina’s father Adam was on unpaid work leave as of Tuesday while Khloe continued working from home, explaining her company was very understanding of the news.

“It definitely puts things into perspective,” Khloe said with Karina in her lap. “Before you worry about the little things, you know? Now it’s just like ... none of that matters.”

The Haneys are now faced with a choice.

Immunosuppressive therapy that could put the disease into remission, followed by months of waiting to see if it worked. Or, a bone marrow transplant. Adam and Khloe learned they aren’t matches for Karina, so the bone marrow transplant would be riskier coming from someone she isn’t related to. As the Haneys do what they can, they want to remind others of how critical bone marrow donation can be.

“Have my little pink dot on my license plate to be a donor,” Khloe explained of “donate life” plates in some states. “But I didn’t realize you could also sign up to be a bone marrow donor too.”

“My biggest message, sign up to be a donor,” Adam said of the “Be The Match” registry. “You could save lives.”

Registering through “Be The Match” is simple. After you register, you receive a swab kit in the mail. The swabbing process takes less than 30 seconds. Once you send the swab in, you’re added to the registry. Click here for more information.

If you’re interested in tracking Karina’s treatment, click here for updates from her family.

A GoFundMe was established to help the Haneys with medical expenses. While they continue to decide what is best for their daughter, they estimate that a bone marrow transplant in Colorado, even with insurance, could cost them $250,000. Click here to help the Haneys.

Click here to read more on the rare disorder from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Some 11 News viewers may recognize Khloe as she formerly worked at KKTV as a reporter.