Kasson family doesn’t take one second for granted
Rilee Bjerke is one in a million for more than one reason. Every minute spent with Rilee is a miracle and not taken for granted.
Rilee and her family have been fighting for her life every second since she was just two years old. Rilee, 16, is a sophomore at Kasson-Mantorville.
At the age of two, Rilee was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, meaning her bone marrow wasn’t producing enough red or white blood cells or platelets. For a year, she lived off of blood transfusions and, a year later, underwent a bone marrow transplant.
“Little did we know this would begin a long journey of many questions and very few answers,” said Rilee’s mother Nicole Bjerke.
For a while, Bjerke says, it was quiet, but at the age of nine the family got an answer to one of their many questions. In 2008 Rilee was officially diagnosed with a disease that is estimated to affect one in a million, Dyskeratosis congenita, more commonly referred to as DC. It turns out DC is what caused her aplastic anemia.
“There are many emotions that go along with learning that someone you love has a rare disease. It can’t be helped, though, and you learn to live with it,” Bjerke said.
DC is a genetically inherited multi-symptom and multi-organ disease that was officially recognized as a disease in 2004. Due to its rare nature, not much is known of the disease and there is no cure at this time.