Carter and Brayden Mantta are spending their best Christmas together at home

Best gift ever: being ‘normal’ again

There were no guarantees of success when the Aldergrove youth underwent chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at B.C. Children's Hospital

Carter Mantta and his family will be celebrating a very quiet Christmas and New Year but it will be the happiest one in his three years on this planet.

There were no guarantees of success when the Aldergrove youth underwent chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant at B.C. Children’s Hospital in September. Carter was only the second case of chronic granulomatous disease — also known by its acronym, CGD — diagnosed in B.C. in the past 20 years.

This is a relatively new and promising procedure for CGD, a disease in which immune system cells called phagocytes do not function properly. Certain immune system cells in a patient’s body are unable to kill some types of bacteria and fungi and the disorder leads to long term and recurrent infections. And while long-term antibiotic treatments may help to reduce infections, early death is typically a result of repeated lung infections.

This treatment entails killing off a patient’s entire immune system and replacing it with a new one.

Carter entered the hospital on September 12 and started chemotherapy the next day, before he was ready for the transplant on Sept. 22.

There were some scares along the way, and Carter was on up to eight IVs of various immune suppressant, anti-rejection and antibiotic drugs at a time, but he consistently gained strength and a restored immune system.

His father Carl was constantly at his side throughout the hospital stay, as he had been fortunate enough to bank enough overtime and not lose family income until Carter’s return to their home on Nov. 2. His mother Nathalie split her time between Carter and his older brother Brayden, aged five, who stayed at the family’s Aldergrove home.

The community had also rallied to the help of the family after a story about their plight was told The Aldergrove Star on April 14. While much of the medical expenses were covered by the medical plan, there were many uncertainties at a very difficult time for the young family.

“We want to give a million thanks to everyone,” said Nathalie earlier this year. “We have had money donated, offers of daycare help for Brayden, gas and food certificates, clothes and toiletries. It really has made a difference.”

Brayden has been overjoyed to have his little brother back at home and the two get along famously.

“We’re going to have a low-key Christmas,” said Carl, but the family is looking forward to a return to normal life in the new year after the 100-day isolation recommended by doctors is up.

“His taste buds will take a while to return, because of the chemotherapy, but his diet is still restricted anyway,” said Nathalie.

“On January 17 his centrelines (IVs) will be removed from his chest so he’ll be able to have a normal bath or go swimming without worrying about them pulling out or cutting him.

“And we’ll have to re-do all of his immunizations next year so that he’ll be ready for Kindergarten.”

“We are going to enjoy a normal family summer starting this spring,” said Carl, as Carter and Brayden nod their heads approvingly.