There’s a story behind our May cover girl Olivia’s beautiful, multihued hair. When Olivia was 1, she was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia (SAA), a rare form of bone marrow failure in which the body is unable to produce enough red cells, white cells and platelets. Without treatment, SAA is fatal. Olivia underwent various treatments, but unfortunately, her body was still unable to produce red cells or platelets — causing her to need regular blood transfusions. In March of 2020, her medical team decided she needed a bone marrow transplant. Lori and Michael, her mom and dad, explained that while SAA is not cancer, she’d need chemotherapy and radiation before the transplant and that would make her hair fall out. Lori hoped to soften the blow by saying she could dye her hair before the procedure. Olivia wanted rainbow hair. Lori dyed Olivia’s hair herself and posted photos to the Facebook page she had set up to give updates on Olivia’s progress.
“Everybody loved the rainbow hair,” says Lori. “More than that, I think it was this glimpse of happiness, of hope and inspiration that people were drawn to in the midst of all the fear and unknown surrounding us at the beginning of the pandemic.”
The Facebook page, Olivia’s Rainbowtastic Life, now has nearly 35,000 followers. The family is using the platform to draw attention to the organizations that have helped Olivia. Be the Match, a bone-marrow donor registry, paired Olivia with a donor from the United Kingdom. Olivia had a wish for an amazing outdoor playhouse granted by Make-A-Wish Foundation. She is now a Make-A-Wish ambassador and team captain of our area’s Walk for Wishes team — Olivia’s Rainbowtastic Walkers. You can donate to the May 22 virtual walk at oregon.wish.org/Olivia.
Almost a year after her transplant, 4-year-old Olivia has come a long way. “A year ago, Olivia had weekly daylong doctors appointments. Now, we go once a month for a quick set of labs. Her recovery has gone so smoothly, with hardly a hiccup along the way,” says Lori. “Olivia will be monitored for life. Her journey is far from over. But despite it all, I feel confident she is going to continue to grow and thrive.”
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