Bacteria Girl

Reporter: Andrea Burns

Jane says “if she gets a cut or something, if bacteria get to it, she could become critical very quickly” With an infectious laugh and a cheeky smile, MacKenzie Bauld looks very much the happy, average three year old. But, what a kiss and a bandaid would fix for most kids , for McKenzie, could be a disaster. Even something as innocent as playing in the backyard with her sisters puts MacKenzie at risk. . she has a condition which means her blood can't fight bacteria.

Sarah says “it's very scarey to think about that your child has a potentially life threatening condition”. It's called Auto Immune Neutropenia.... Oncology fellow Dr Sarah Stead from Perth's Princess Margaret Hospital....”neutrophils which are one of the white blood cells that fight infection which are produced in bone marrow by everybody , McKenzie's immue systm for some reason recognised her neturophils as being foreign to her body.”

Jane Bauld's mother's intuition was to thank for her daughter's condition being diagnosed, “she'd had a bout of tonsilitis and had a course of antibiotics. After that, she'd never bounced back just was a bit grumpy and not quite right” Jane took her back to the GP three times. “Usually of course your doctor gives you your blood test results. About 9-9.30 that night I had a phone call from the pathologist who'd done the blood test, saying look we're really worried about your baby, you need to take her straight to PMH”, McKenzie was admitted to the children's cancer ward. Dr Sarah says “the way we diagnose it originally is with a bone marrow test which is the same way as we diagnose leukemia”

Not leukemia, but still a rare and potentially fatal condition. Mackenzie's Dad, Andrew, “when doctor sarah said it was not leukemia, the relief both Jane and I felt was overwhelming” Still, the Baulds say they'll never forget the day doctors diagnosed Auto Immune Neutropenia - it was then- baby Mackenzie's first birthday. With diagnosis, the whole Bauld family had to become hyper vigilant about bacteria.

Have you had to wrap her in cotton wool? Jane says “we have - the poor child has spent two years from the ages of 1 to now, she's almost 3, locked at home, seeing very few friends.“

Trips to hospital have been numerous... Mackenzie's been lucky for the company of her big sisters. Jane admits she became a clean freak - for Mackenzie, ordinary things like going to supermarkets, daycare , even playgroup,have been off limits For six months, Mackenzie has been on treatment it's hoped will give her a normal life. The medicine's an injection that stimulates McKenzie's own defences. “it's to help her bone marrow to produce more of those white cells, to help her fight infections”

Mackenzie's neutrophil levels are regularly monitored, so far the results have been good.”her white counts are higher than they've been for as long as we've known her because of the treatment”Kindy is now a possibility for Mackenzie. The condition often goes into remission around school age. Her family and her doctors hope she won't be a cotton wool kid for ever. “With the injections hopefully she'll be living as normal a life as she can”

Contact Jane Bauld at: janeroo@hotmail.com.au