McCandless infant with rare gene mutation recovering from life-saving bone marrow transplant

ST LOUIS — One-year-old Clementine Blackham is one of just 10 people who have been diagnosed with a mutation to the TLR8 gene. In August, she got a life-saving bone marrow transplant from an anonymous donor in Europe.

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Her mom said the transplant went well. However, since then, there have been some ups and downs — but Clementine just hit a huge milestone a few weeks ago.

“At day 100, we got the news she is fully engrafted which means her body is full of her donor cells,” said Tanner Neely-Blackham, Clementine’s mom.

Clementine then left the hospital to stay at the Ronald McDonald house in St. Louis with her parents and older sister. The family was aiming to be home for Thanksgiving.

“We thought we were in the clear but then the night before Thanksgiving I went to go feed her and sure enough she had a fever again,” Neely-Blackham said.

The family has been using social media to post updates on how Clementine is doing.

“It was a great way to showcase what we are doing in St. Louis even though we are in isolation,” Neely-Blackham said.

Clementine’s mom said they are now hoping to be back home for Christmas.

“For us to go home, she has to be healthy and out of the hospital, but since we are still required to do twice-a-week hospital visits, she is just not ready,” Neely-Blackham said.

Once Clementine gets the green light and can return home to McCandless, her mom said they will still have to go back and forth from here to St. Louis for check-ups with her doctor.

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