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Raffle Fundraiser to Help Pay Transplant Expenses

June 21, 2008

By Danny Valentine, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

Jun. 21–Five-year-old Andrew Chlebinski, an Omaha native, is suffering a disease only about 500 people in the U.S. get every year — aplastic anemia.

It’s an illness his parents said has kept their resilient son homebound or stuck in a hospital for much of the past two years. He was diagnosed in late January 2007.

“It gives you a perspective,” said Andrew’s father, Tim Chlebinski. “We do, in some ways, live a miracle every day.”

A fundraiser is scheduled for Sunday to help with expenses.

The condition arises when the body does not make enough blood-forming cells. The effect is increased bleeding, bruising and susceptibility to illness.

So what amounts to small nicks and bruises for other children can be serious for Andrew: A cut could cause him to bleed uncontrollably, a minor bruise to his head could cause internal bleeding. For protection, he often must wear a mask and a helmet.

“We’re just lucky we have a 3-year-old daughter to be a playmate,” said Jen Chlebinski, Andrew’s mother.

Andrew understands he is sick, Jen Chlebinski said, but he is hopeful about getting better and returning to school.

And that prospect, following a bone marrow transplant, looks the best it has for some time. The family has found a good donor match.

The procedure will keep Andrew, his parents and his sister, Jessica, near the University of Minnesota hospital for several months. The procedure will cost the family at least $250,000.

To help pay for the transplant, friends and co-workers are hosting the fundraiser Sunday at Petrow’s Restaurant, 5914 Center St. The event will feature a raffle lasting from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“It’s incredible, people are coming out of the woodwork to lend a hand,” Jen Chlebinski said.

–Contact the writer: 444-1062, danny.valentine@owh.com

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Copyright (c) 2008, Omaha World-Herald, Neb.

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