Government Shutdown Delays Reno Teen's Transplant - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Government Shutdown Delays Reno Teen's Transplant

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A local family has been directly impacted by the shutdown of the federal government that happened back on October 1st.

Marcheta and George Trowbridge's son, Austin, needs a bone marrow transplant, but a clinical trial set up with the National Institutes of Health has been put on hold because of the shutdown.

"We need to have the treatment for our son," George said. "Cancer does not cure itself over time. He needs treatment."

"Nobody knows exactly how long it may take to happen," Marcheta said. "I would like to make the point that time really is the issue in our case."

They've been dealing with a lot in the past several years. Their oldest son and Austin's older brother, Eric, died five years ago at the age of 15 from bone marrow failure caused by myelodysplastic syndrome.

"When the bone marrow fails, you don't make healthy blood cells," Marcheta said.

This year, Austin was diagnosed with the same disorder, which the family says is a rare gene mutation.

"In light of our history with our oldest son passing away from a bone marrow transplant from the same disease, we felt fortunate that we had been invited to the National Institutes of Health," George said.

Doctors then identified the gene mutation that affects the 17-year old Galena High School Senior.

"One of the benefits for us of knowing about the gene mutation and the monitoring of Austin up to this point has been, if his disease advanced, we could send him to transplant much sooner before he got as sick as his brother did," Marcheta said. "His brother was transfusion-dependent by the time we knew anything serious was going on. Austin's chances will be much better through transplant."

Last month, Doctors determined Austin needs a bone marrow transplant that was set to be in mid-November, but the shutdown has delayed the procedure.

"We were at least feeling like we had a course we were headed down, and the government shutdown has thrown all of that into limbo," Marcheta said.

"To have the rug pulled out from underneath you and tell you it was delayed because of federal budget problems, it's pretty hard to take," George said.

The family says they want lawmakers to put themselves in others' shoes.

"If they're going to be taking away spending for some things, it shouldn't be for issues as important as cancer research," Austin said.

"I would ask people to think to themselves, 'how would I feel if this were my child,'" Marcheta said. "Put aside your political rhetoric."

Marcheta said they want lawmakers to be more aware about childhood cancer research.

"Clinical research is much smaller for childhood cancer because they don't have a political voice," she said. "We're trying to change that because we're speaking from a boy's personal experience."

Through all of this, Austin remains optimistic about his treatment. He wants to study either engineering or art at the University of Nevada when he graduates.

"I need to go into my treatment with a positive outlook and hope everything goes well," he said.

"We hope that they solve the budget issue in Washington, D.C.," George said. "Then, we can go forward, go through the procedure, the transplant, and come out on the other side and live a normal life. It's been five and a half years since we've had normalcy in our life."

Written by Adam Varahachaikol
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