ELENA: My daughter, Evelyn, has SMA Type 1. Her story starts before she was even born because we had a daughter who passed away from SMA. Her name is Josephine. When we find out that Josephine had SMA Type 1, we had no idea what the disease is. It was 2010. And we just lived one day at a time. Took one step at a time. And we saw the progression of disease from the beginning to the end until her last breath. She passed away at home and we sang her a lullaby until she took her last breath. But then, 2 years later, we find out we are pregnant again with Evelyn.
MILAN: We had her tested when she was born. The results came back a couple weeks later and it was positive for SMA. I read about the gene therapy that they were experimenting with. I found the email link to their administrator and I, I wrote her all about who we are and our story. I think a day or two later, I got a phone call and they asked if we were interested to fly up to Columbus, Ohio, to see if she was qualified.
ELENA: That’s the reason why she got the gene therapy so early and that was a key because the timing in this, in SMA is so crucial, because as long as you wait, there’s more strength the kid would lose. I will always remember the day when we choose one-time-only dose treatment of SMA. The infusion took about an hour. And in the end, everybody clapped. And we were, felt like there is a hope for us. We started to get excited. When we came home with Evelyn after the infusion I was just holding my breath. And, and waiting. And that’s the time when she started to lift her head when she was on her tummy. This is nothing less than a miracle for a SMA child, because I knew personally that kids with SMA Type 1, they do not lift their heads while they’re on their tummy. And Evelyn did.
MILAN: And so, my expectations after this, was give her every opportunity to move, to turn, to roll, to play, and it was just exciting. Every week was exciting.
ELENA: If you look at Evelyn, and you don’t know anything about her, you would never think that she has any problems. She does have weakness in her legs. She likes to play outside. She likes to ride her tricycle. She loves to draw. She loves to dance. She’s doing what she’s supposed to do, as a 3-year-old.
MILAN: Every day she does something that makes me laugh. Every day she’s doing something great. I love to see her swim. I love to see her go on her scooter.
ELENA: She’s just so independent right now. Like I can’t believe she grows so fast. She’s already potty trained, which is amazing. We never thought, you know, a simple thing like potty training, that will be possible for her.
EVELYN: My name is Evelyn and I’m 4½ years old. I like to play with my friends. When I grow up, I’m gonna ride horses and I want to wear my favorite boots and my hat.
MILAN: Evelyn is growing and changing every day. Every week. She’s learning things so fast.
ELENA: We decided to do home school this year. She’s at this wonderful time when she learns so much. We’ll also have like a co-op meetings once a week, so she is in the school setting with other kids. She loves it. She loves to make friends. And she loves to answer questions and do things at school. She’s getting better at a lot of things like jumping and even running. She can do monkey bars and she can pull herself up. If she goes up the stairs, I don’t need to worry about her, because she can pull herself up on the rail. The kids who treated with ZOLGENSMA, this is a new territory. Nobody knows what to expect and every kid is different, and has different challenges.
MILAN: Evelyn still has SMA. She was born with SMA and before she received treatment, SMA took a toll on her body. It did damage to her cells, to her nerves, and caused weakness in her glutes, in her hips, that she still suffers from today.
ELENA: I think the water therapies would be really good because they don’t put a lot of pressure on her bones and joints. And give her a lot of freedom to move around. She’s gonna start her swim classes, which is absolutely amazing. I’m so excited about her. She loves swimming and she’s like very confident in the water. About 5 months ago, we find out that we are expecting.
MILAN: She is SMA-free. We’re very excited. Very thankful. With Evelyn we didn’t think anything was gonna be possible to treat her. And we are extremely grateful for what we’ve been given with Evelyn. But having another baby, we were relieved to know that even if she did have SMA there is hope.
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