The average preschooler runs, jumps and plays outside and can handle the occasional trip and fall. The average preschooler will fall down, dust off and continue playing. Christian Mayfield was not your average preschooler.
When Christian was 3, he fell at a Friday night birthday party and bumped his head. Although it was only a small tap, Christian's mother, Brandi, knew something was really wrong.
The next morning, Brandi took Christian to Shannon. After a few tests, the nurses came and told Brandi her son's platelet count was only 7,000. "I was instantly in tears," says Brandi.
"What does that mean?" says Christian's father, Trey. "Is he dying? I had no clue." Dr. Patyrak informed the Mayfields that Christian had idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). His body was producing an antibody that attacked his platelets. While a normal platelet count is 250,000 to 450,000, Christian's count got as low as 2,000.
"I had to quit my job because no one would take him in day care," says Brandi. "A bump on the arm could cause Christian to bleed to death. You never have any peace."
Brandi and Trey had to keep a close eye on their son. "Christian was so active…the hardest thing to do was to limit him from being a child," says Trey.
The Mayfields went through a series of treatments, from steroid therapy to experimental chemo, hoping each one would be the answer. When Christian was 4 years old, he had his spleen removed at Cooks Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.
The Mayfield family was able to stay home in San Angelo because the blood tests were all completed by their "adopted family" at Shannon Medical Center. "The nurses here have been a tremendous moral support for me," Brandi says. "You walk in and they smile at you and say, 'Mom, it's all right. You are going to get through this.' I wouldn't trade the nurses at Shannon for anything."
Trey agrees: "They are our soldiers of medicine. They stood with us through the fight and are still standing with us today."
Today, Christian also seems somewhat of a soldier. The 8-year-old is tough, both mentally and physically. What once seemed impossible for Christian is now a reality. He plays soccer and baseball just like the rest of his peers. "We don't have to tell him no to sports or things that he wants to do," says Trey. "He's free to be a kid again."