Triplets Reunited After Lifesaving Transplants | News
CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y.- The ever-smiling Kira Palermo has always been one of three.
The 26-month old is one of a set of triplets that also includes sisters Annaliese and Sarah, but she is also part of a much more devastating trio. Kira is one of likely three people in the world with a rare disorder known as Medich Giant Platelet Disorder. In layman's terms, it means Kira has had trouble making blood platelets.
As it turns out: It's the former that saved her from the latter.
"Sarah and Annaliese both saved Kira's life," said the girls' mother, Kari Palermo. "They were both perfect matches, we had about a 25 percent chance, and we hit the jackpot."
Kira had been in and out of the hospital since she was born, as doctors tried to diagnose her. She suffered a lung bleed at four months old and nearly died, and later she suffered a serious brain bleed. Her doctors at Children's Hospital in Buffalo referred her to a specialist at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, where she and her mother have spent the past six months.
It was also six months ago that her doctors told the Palermos that Kira needed a bone marrow transplant.
"Anna was the first one, because she had been the most healthy when they were all born," said Daniel Palermo, the girls' father. "So she donated the marrow for Kira."
But just six weeks ago, Kira nearly died again. She had a virus, and desperately needed white blood cells. This time, the donor would be her other sister: Sarah.
To get Sarah to Cincinnati, the Palmeros turned to Wings Flights of Hope, the non-profit organization that had been flying them back and fourth free of cost all along.
"I was in tears, and [the Wings representative] said, 'What do you need?' and I said, 'I need you to get my daughters here as quick as possible because Kira is not, it's not looking good for her, the virus levels are so high," said Kari Palermo.
They were there by the end of the day, and the transfusion went well. Kari Palermo says Kira stayed smiling through it all.
"I have pictures of her recovering from surgery with a big smile on her face, and nobody understand how she can do that, but it's all she's ever known," said Kari Palermo.
Tuesday afternoon, Wings Flights of Hope Founder and Pilot Joe DeMarco landed at Prior Aviation with Kira and her parents in the plane. Family members brought Sarah and Annaliese to the airport to meet them.
"Now Kira has both of her sisters in her," said Nanci Swalm, Kira's Grandmother. "And its so special I can't tell you."
"Today's flight with Kira was something that pilots just live for," said DeMarco. "To be able to bring a little girl home."
After six months of travel and worry, the only plans this family has for the summer are plans to be together.
"We sent her to the best place for her, so the three of them could be together in the end," said Dan Palermo. "And so we could watch them grow up together."
Wings Flights of Hope is a non-profit, volunteer organization based in Western New York. Friday, Wings is holding a Spring Picnic fundraiser at 3964 California Road in Orchard Park from 6-11 p.m. Tickets are $25 a person and for persons ages 21 & up only.