Bone marrow transplant is helping brave Faye (5) battle rare condition
A five-year-old girl from Co Antrim is fighting back against a rare blood condition that has dominated her short life.
Faye Annon, from Lisburn, was diagnosed with Diamond-Blackfan Anaemia (DBA) earlier this year after she first became unwell just three months after she was born.
The condition, which affects one in 16 million people, primarily attacks the bone marrow and resulted in little Faye undergoing chemotherapy before a bone marrow transplant.
The major function of bone marrow is to produce new blood cells and in DBA the bone marrow malfunctions and fails to make enough red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body's tissues.
Brave Faye's initial treatment saw her receive a blood transfusion every three weeks, but resulted in an overload of iron in her body.
To counteract this she was given iron chelating drugs, but the levels still became dangerously high.
When they were informed last year that Faye needed a bone marrow transplant by her doctor in St Mary's Hospital, London, her mother and father, Chris and Marguerite, and her 10-year-old brother Ethan already knew that they were not a match after previous testing.
But in August of this year, her mother and father were informed that the hospital had found a match.
The family travelled to St Mary's the same month and, on September 4, Faye had the bone marrow transplant.
Faye and her mother and father spent the next 10 weeks in London as she underwent treatment, including a round of chemotherapy which was necessary ahead of the procedure.
On December 11, her father posted a video of a healthy Faye running the Mary Peters track in south Belfast, along with her brother, on Twitter.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Chris praised his daughter for the bravery and courage she has shown throughout her illness and said her brother has been influential in helping his little sister.
"Faye's very happy, very positive and she probably doesn't really understand everything that's going on, but she has a realisation on a lot of things that kids wouldn't have," he said.
"Her general persona is that she's very happy, jumping about and content.
"Between me and her mummy, we try to do things she really enjoys and she watches a lot of TV, just as kids do.
"She said to me that she wanted to be like Dash out of the Incredibles, so that's why we went down to the Mary Peters track.
"Faye and Ethan are very special and get on really well. It has been very difficult on Ethan, but he's been a fantastic big brother."
Faye's school life has been put on hold as she was due to start St Joseph's Primary School in Lisburn in August, but as part of her recovery, she must stay away from large crowds in case of infection.
Despite that setback, her father, who works for Mount Charles Group and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, and her mother, who is employed by Belfast's A&L Goodbody Solicitors, said Faye has done exceptionally well and have high hopes for the future.
"It's a condition that no one really knows about," added Chris.
"Moving forward, everything is looking good, but you are working from blood test to blood test.
"It's obviously a lot different from cancers and leukaemia, but it's something that we were hoping that we would never have to go through.
"Being in London for 10 weeks was challenging enough.
"She made the whole experience of the transplant so much easier because generally when kids are in hospital for that time, there's multiple fevers and sicknesses, but Faye had one fever and was only sick once."