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Advertisement You can help Wyatt at Ramsey's fundraising event
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · November 2nd, 2017


Remember the little four-year-old who was one of the first children to receive a Hawkeye WAVE while he was a patient at the new University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital? The story went viral and little Wyatt Hemphill became a star in a matter of minutes as he smiled, giggled and waved back at all the fans in the Hawkeye stadium on September 18.

What you may not have known is that Conrad Ramsey provided an event almost exactly a year ago to raise funds to help Wyatt. Conrad is hosting another event this year because Wyatt is not out of the woods yet with his rare illnesses.

To help Wyatt, please visit Ramsey's Bistro on Monday, November 13, any time between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Have some delicious food, a beverage, and meet Wyatt's family. Then donate a good-sized tip on Wyatt's behalf.

At a meeting with Conrad; Wyatt's parents, Brandon and Hillary Hemphill; and maternal grandparents, Greg and Sue Edwards, we heard how life-threatening Wyatt's illnesses are.

Wyatt has had serious health problems from the time he was born, which was on May 26, 2013. From Day 1, when he was having trouble breathing because of swollen tonsils and adenoids, the list of problems has gotten longer and longer. He has had shingles-like sores up and down his body which make him hurt so badly that he refuses to walk or crawl. He has had problems with his kidneys and his digestive tract.

Some of Wyatt's tests have been wonky, too. For instance, one test measures what is called a GG level in his system. It is supposed to fall in a range between 700 and 1000, but at one point, Wyatt's level was 40.

Various tests and X-rays have shown a mass in Wyatt's stomach. His appendix has swollen to 12 times the size it should have been. A lymph node the size of a chocolate chip cookie was found in his abdomen right above his belly button, pressing up into his lungs. And his digestive problems are ongoing because of reactions between many of his medicines, etc.

Wyatt suffers from Hyper-immunoglobulin M, so he has trouble creating antibodies to fight off disease. He has to wear a mask for protection and won't be able to thank you in person at Ramsey's.

He also was found to have a disease that is so rare that very little is known about it and very few people have even been diagnosed with it - it's called PIK3CD. Three children in one family are known to have it, and their father and uncle died because their PIK3CD turned into cancer. The children are older than Wyatt, and they all have cancer. So far Wyatt doesn't have it.

Last May 17 Wyatt underwent a bone marrow transplant, with hopes that he could become healthy.

First, a donor had to be found who matched Wyatt on a number of "markers." His older brother Landon was really disappointed because he wanted to "save" his brother, but his bone marrow didn't match Wyatt's on any of the markers. A match was found, however, and that person's bone marrow matched on 12 markers, while eight is usually considered good.

Then chemotherapy had to be used to kill Wyatt's own bone marrow, after which the donor's marrow could be fed into his body through tubing.

Since that time, however, Wyatt's body has begun to reject the bone marrow. So he will need another transplant. Tentatively, it is to be performed in late winter, but according to Hillary, it may have to be done sooner and the chemotherapy will need to be more aggressive this time.

Yet, Wyatt has good days and smiles and giggles like he did on the Facebook post - which can still be viewed by looking him up in your browser or through KCRG.com.

He loves robots and Ghostbusters, music, and baseball and football. His maternal grandparents, Sue and Greg, mentioned how he received a baseball and carried it around with him all last summer. His favorite colors are blue and red, so when you go to Ramsey's, you might want to wear those colors as a show of support.

He has to wear a mask all day and a hat and sunglasses outside.

Hillary noted that Wyatt is just now starting to realize that somehow he is different from others. But she hopes the next bone marrow transplant is successful, so he can go to school, perhaps a year and a half after the surgery. He'll need home schooling until then.

When asked how much the transplant could help Wyatt, Hillary said he can become pretty healthy, although he still will need to take some meds and probably will have some digestive issues.

We certainly hope he comes through the surgery with flying colors and reaches that hoped-for level of health. Please support Wyatt and his family, so he can get better and smile and giggle again, just like he did during the WAVE back in September.
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