Fourteen-year-old Lauren Durkin from York, Maine knows far too much about rare bone marrow disorders for her young age. Her two older brothers, Jason and Chris, both suffered from myelodysplastic syndromes and now she too has been diagnosed with the disorder.
Myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS, are a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells.
“MDS typically strikes older people, who are more susceptible as their cellular makeup ages,” Dr. Michelle Lee at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston told the Portsmouth Herald. “It is a rare disease to begin with, but for it to strike three members of one family is very unusual,” Lee added.
As far as a cause, Lauren's dad, Mike Durkin, told the newspaper the family assumes it must be genetic.
"There's probably some recessive gene," he said. "They can make their best guess, but nobody knows for sure. It's just unfortunate."
While there is no definitive cure or treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes – a bone marrow transplant has been show to be very effective.
And that’s exactly what the Durkin family is hoping for. It has already worked for Jason who underwent a transplant in March 2007 and Chris who had a transplant 5 months later.
Both have now recovered.
To help find a donor, The York Kiwanis Club has organized a bone marrow drive for Lauren.
"Lauren has seen what her two brothers have gone through. She knows what to expect," Durkin told the Herald. "These kids are tough and strong — stronger than I would have ever suspected."