By Imani Tate
LA VERNE – Noah Ramos, a tough and nearly 10-year-old boy with lots of friends who share his love of sports, skateboarding and bicycling, needs help and La Verne Heights Elementary School classmates, teachers, staff, administrators and parents are working together to make sure he gets it.
Noah was diagnosed with aplastic anemia on Sept. 4 at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Dr. Thomas Hofstra, a hemotologist, headed the medical team that conducted tests to determine what was wrong with Noah.
“Aplastic anemia is an anemia caused by a drastic decrease in the bone marrow’s production of all types of blood cells,” according to the Mayo Clinic Family Health Book.
“This unusual and serious disease can occur spontaneously or it can be triggered by certain medications or toxic substances. The disorder can be acute or chronic. It always is progressive.”
Noah became feverish and began vomiting at school on Aug. 24, the first day of school, said Jennifer Brazeau, his fifth-grade teacher as well as principal secretary Patty Fletcher.
When he returned to school two days later, he got a nose bleed that couldn’t be stopped.
His mother, Alaina Ramos, and her fiance Kevin Palomino took Noah to Dr. Scott Schiebe, the family’s pediatrician. Schiebe instantly recognized the bruising and dots all over Noah’s body indicated something serious, possibly leukemia, and immediately arranged for the couple to take Noah to Children’s Hospital.
Several days of testing ruled out leukemia, but the diagnosis by Hofstra was worse.
“A bone marrow biospy determined it wasn’t leukemia because there were no cancerous cells, but aplastic anemia is worse because Noah had no cells. His production of white blood cells which fight infection, red blood cells which provide oxygen and platelets which clots the blood was halted,” Ramos said.
The medical team gave him blood and platelet transfusions and immediately initiated chemotherapy. Noah has been hospitalized seven times within the month of September and is back in Children’s Hospital.
It will take three months for physicians to know if the chemotherapy worked. If it doesn’t, a second course of treatment will be ordered. It that fails, physicians will look for a bone marrow donor.
Ramos’ support network – Noah’s grandparents Art and Diana Becker and John and Isabel Palomino, uncle Brandon Ives, brothers Christian and Chase, sister Chloe, Ramos’ boss Jim McCarthy, co-workers and friends – has rallied around Noah to keep up his spirits.
Brazeau and Fletcher said La Verne Heights children wanted to do something to help, so the “Nickels for Noah” bins were placed in classrooms and the office. Within one week, students put $690 in small change in the bins, and an anonymous donor matched that amount.
The bins are still at the school, at 1550 Base Line Road in La Verne, for other Bonita Unified School District and children and parents who wish to make cash donations to help offset Noah’s medical bills and increased family expenses.
There is a Web site., www.caringbridge.org/noahramos, where youngsters and adults can send encouraging messages to Noah and his mother. Additional donations may be sent to the school for Noah. Information: (909) 971-8205 Ext. 4511.