Senior Lauren Chapman undergoes a bone marrow transplant for severe Aplastic Anemia


Courtesy of Kandy Chapman

At St. Louis Children’s Hospital, senior Lauren Chapman visits the eighth floor garden after a treatment. Chapman enjoyed looking out at the views of Forest Park. “At that point I don’t think I had been outside in at least two weeks, it was really cool just to leave that room and feel the breeze and see the trees,” Chapman said.

After noticing several random bruises scattered on her body and getting a blood test from her doctor when she was 13, senior Lauren Chapman was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with severe Aplastic Anemia. Aplastic Anemia is when your body stops producing sufficient blood cells and the immune system reacts by destroying bone marrow in your body.  

Chapman withstood a bone marrow transplant that rebooted her immune system. There’s a recovery period of more than six weeks and it requires almost complete isolation.

“What was scary for me when I started to realize I needed this transplant was that I was going to miss a lot of school and have a lot of time alone. My actual transplant didn’t hurt but the bone marrow biopsy was a painful procedure because they took out part of the bone in my back,” Lauren said.

Before the transplant, Chapman also participated in a National Institute of Health clinical trial with Dr. Neil Young and one round of chemotherapy. The trial worked for about two years and then her blood cell counts started decreasing again at the end of her sophomore year.

“I was very hopeful for the trial. The doctors would say that it worked because it worked for two to three years,” Chapman said. “But since it was a trial we didn’t know much about it so we didn’t know how long it would work or what it would do to me. [Failing] was always a thought in the back of my mind because I knew it wasn’t a permanent solution.”  

Because of the numerous medical procedures Chapman underwent, she missed several weeks of school. She participated in online classes with the help of Parkway’s Homebound Education.

“The hardest thing was knowing I wasn’t going be there when school started. The worst part was staying alone in my house not being able to hang with friends and just not having anything to do,” Lauren said. “I was just kinda stuck outside of my life which just really sucked.”

Courtesy of Kandy Chapman
Senior Lauren Chapman bikes through Spain during her trip through Make-A-Wish.

Throughout her journey, Lauren’s friends and family supported her and have made sacrifices for her, showing their love and encouragement.

“My mother would pull me out of blocked study hall and we’d go visit [Chapman] and get a little treat like Dairy Queen,” senior Deirdre Jost said. “Visiting her a week after her actual transplant was hard for me to see because she was very loopy.” 

Lauren’s youngest brother was born just weeks before her diagnosis.

“Sometimes when it rains it pours,” Lauren’s mother Kandy Chapman said. “Our new baby was born only a few weeks before Lauren was admitted to the hospital for a bone marrow transplant. A few weeks later Lauren’s grandfather passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. We look back on that time and wonder how we kept it all together those few months. We had so many supportive friends and family that helped us. Our church community was wonderful.”

For a period of time Lauren’s condition was so severe that she qualified to be granted a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Her doctors communicated with Child Life Services to collect dates and times to make her wish a reality.

“I choose a European Cruise because I have a really big family. I have nine siblings and they are all younger than me and we love traveling,” Lauren said. “We got to go to so many amazing places.”  

Lauren feels that all the medical procedures gave her a second chance at life.

“Not everyone gets a second chance [at life] so I’m so grateful I got mine. I definitely appreciate everything more, but especially the little things,” Lauren said. “Going without [the little things] for a while was very hard but a part of me is kind of grateful that I got to have that experience because now I see the world with a different perspective.”