|Young child faces many struggles
By JULIE KEANE, Globe staff reporter
June 3, 2004
MARCUS - Born with Fanconi Anemia, a severe blood disorder, Dillon Schwarz
has had to overcome many hardships throughout his young life as he has battled
through chemotherapy, radiation and heart surgery.
Born on Nov. 6, 1996, Dillon's blood disorder caused him to be born without
thumbs and a crippled right arm. When Dillon was only three months old he had
heart surgery and he had an endotracheal tube placed in him to help him breathe.
After the heart surgery, Dillon was not able to keep food down and a feeding
tube was placed in his stomach.
The doctors said due to having Fanconi Anemia, Dillon was subject to
leukemia. It was in March of 2000, Leo Schwarz, Dillon's dad, said they decided
that Dillon should have a bone marrow transplant.
"He would always bleed and we could never get it to stop," Leo
said. "He had one severe one in 2000 and that is when we decided to go to
Minneapolis and have a bone marrow transplant. This would help keep him from
getting leukemia. They figured by age five he would have leukemia."
Dillon also underwent radiation and chemotherapy in Minneapolis to prevent
the possibility of leukemia. Dillon stayed for about a year at the Ronald
McDonald House in Minneapolis to recover. Leo said after the stay in
Minneapolis, Dillon seems to be living a healthy life.
"He has his normal check-ups and his normal cold just like everyone
gets, but he hasn't had anything serious," Leo said. "To me, it looked
like it took care of everything."
Leo said although Dillon seems to be healthy, he knows that Fanconi Anemia is
a life-threatening disease and people who have this blood disorder only live to
be about 23 years of age.
"I pray to myself to help Dillon get through it," Leo said. "I
just hope that he can live a normal and happy life. He still has a long road
ahead of him. I hope that he'll pass all of that and lives until he is 90 years
Alvira Schwarz, Dillon's grandmother, said she admires Dillon for being brave
during his sickness. She said he always has an inquisitive mind when he goes for
his regular check-ups and blood tests.
"I think it's great that he tries to do everything that everyone else
does," Alviria said. "He doesn't let anything stop him. He doesn't let
doctors scare him. He goes to his checkups and he is very curious about what is
going on, but he is never shy or complains."
Dillon and his older brother Taylor, age 11, have become very close
throughout Dillon's sickness. Leo said the boys are always playing together.
Dillon especially likes to be outside and play with all of nature's creatures.
"There is not a day that goes by where they (Dillon and Taylor) aren't
doing things with each other," Leo said. "They have grown closer
together."Dillon was part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the family took
a trip to Disney World in Florida. Leo said that was a very exciting time for
Dillon, "he acted like a normal kid again."
Another honor Dillon received was from the Catholic Daughters of America.
Dillon was named the 2004 State of Iowa Catholic Daughters of America Kid. He
was recognized during a Mass at Holy Name Catholic Church in Marcus. He was
presented with a hand-made, multi-colored quilt.
Leo said Dillon was very happy with the quilt. Leo added that he and Dillon's
mother share custody of the two boys, and Dillon likes to sleep with the quilt
when he is staying at his dad's.
"His eyes lit up and he was really excited," Leo said. "He
sleeps with it when he is here."
Leo said Dillon was thrilled with the pictures that were taken of him with
his new blanket. He said that despite his illness, Dillon is always having a
good time and is a very happy child.
"Everyone enjoys having him around," Leo said. "He is a great
kid who is always happy."