Health Team

Duke Children's Hospital Delivers Christmas Miracle

The Waltons will be at home this Christmas celebrating a miracle: that they are all together a year after 15-year-old Camille was diagnosed with pre-leukemia.

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DURHAM, N.C. — A year after their 15-year-old daughter suddenly needed a bone marrow transplant, the Waltons are celebrating a Christmas miracle.

Shortly before Christmas 2006, doctors at Duke Children's Hospital diagnosed Camille Walton with pre-leukemia.

"She would have evolved into leukemia very soon ... if we hadn't been able to do the transplant," said Dr. Paul Martin, a pediatrician.

Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow and blood. Patients need a bone marrow transplant from a matching donor, and the best possible match is a sibling.

"For every full sibling you have, it's a one-in-four chance that they'll be a match," Martin said.

With three brothers and one sister, Camille still had no guarantees. But tests showed that both her sister Rachel and her brother Adam were perfect matches.

"For whatever reason, the doctors and my parents chose me," Rachel said. "I'm sure my brother would have been great."

The procedure required Camille to spend Christmas away from home in a hospital room. Camille said that seeing other children on the transplant ward in worse condition than she, though, helped her count her blessings.

"A lot of the kids have actually passed away, which is really why I can't go up on the floor," Camille said.

Although she was away from home on Christmas day, Camille received many gifts, including one really big one.

"She started growing cells, which was a very nice present," Martin said.

A year later, Camille said she is still doing well, and she and her family are looking forward to a special Christmas together, at home.

"I just want to take full advantage of everything in life now for those kids who didn't make it," Camille said.

"As much as we appreciate that, we also feel for the families that are here and are going through it," Adam said. "And we'll just be praying for them and believing that they'll be in this spot next year."