By Sarah West
Published: Thursday, December 31, 2009 5:05 AM CST Cartoon “Jay Jay the Jet Plane” is flickering on the TV screen, and 2-year-old Granton Bayless is absorbed in it, for the moment.
The IV in his shoulder has been there for three hours — it will boost his immunity while his body works on creating B cells that fight antigens.
Granton was diagnosed with severe combined immunodeficiency, or SCID, in March 2008 and also fought respiratory syncytial virus and pneumocystic pneumonia during his six-month stay at the pediatric intensive care unit of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. SCID is commonly referred to as “bubble boy disease” and can lead to reduced or malfunctioning white blood cells that fight infection.
In June 2008, Granton received a life-saving cord blood transplant that gave him a new immune system. The donor B cells, of which he has retained 16 percent at his last B cell count, also “remember” the antigen, immunizing him against it for the future. His own B cells fight infection only a little bit, Daniel said.
“He still doesn’t have all of his B cells back in, so he gets a little boost now and then,” dad Daniel says.
“Once a month,” mom Jenni adds.
When the technician removes the IV, Granton is at first upset. Like any 2-year-old, he is not fond of needles and the process is not a comfortable one. Unlike other 2-year-olds, however, Granton has felt the stick of many, many needles.
In moments, Granton is over his hurt feelings about the needle and is up, somersaulting, flexing his muscles, lifting things, riding his horsey, identifying letters in a Cookie Monster book and, most miraculously, smiling, healthy and here.
Granton celebrated his second birthday Oct. 2 and his one-year anniversary of leaving the hospital Nov. 24. Before that, on Easter, he welcomed baby sister Kaylynn to the family.
“When she first came along, he was pretty much indifferent,” Daniel said.
Granton enjoys being big brother and bossing little sis around.
“He likes to tell her, ‘No, no, Kaynee. No, no,’” Daniel said.
“They’re pretty good buddies,” Jenni said.
The Baylesses have spent the last two winters in some trepidation, Jenni said, but so far, Granton has been blessed with good health.
“He hasn’t gotten sick,” Jenni said. “He’s had little sniffles, colds every now and then. He hasn’t had a fever in a long time.”
Concern that Granton could catch H1N1 has kept Granton indoors most of this winter, but he will have freedom again in the spring, Daniel said.
His parents were worried, though, when Daniel became ill in the fall. Daniel said he quarantined himself in a different part of the house.
“I was really concerned he would get it,” Daniel said. “But he never had a symptom. He was fine.”
Daniel is an English teacher, head track coach at Bolivar High School and wrestling coach at Bolivar Middle School. He said he often returns home from wrestling practice covered in sweat and immediately showers.
“I’m around kids all day and some of them are inevitably sick,” Daniel said. “I go straight to the shower before I touch him.”
Granton shows off his knowledge of words and letters during and after his IVIG treatment, pointing out his Mickey Mouse plate and where the needle was, saying “stuck.” The IVIG process could eventually become a shot once a week, Jenni said. Granton wouldn’t have to be immobile for three hours with a needle in his arm.
“Which is nothing compared to the things we’ve had before,” Daniel said.
Christmas lights inspired Granton to say “Wow,” a lot, Jenni said. His language development is also exciting for parents who were told their son may have issues learning.
The Baylesses have memories — bad ones — of their son at 6 months, fighting for his life. But another blessing with Granton’s recovery is watching bad memories turn into good ones. On Easter in 2008, Granton entered the hospital to stay for six months. On Easter in 2009, Kaylynn, or “Kaynee,” joined the group.
“We had some really bad memories of Easter, and now we have some really good memories of Easter,” Daniel said.
“It was pretty important for us, because it made us think about the importance of Easter,” Jenni said.
His shoes make cute squeaking sounds with every hop he makes, and with every hop, an exuberant Granton repeats “Yeah!” He gravitates to Dad’s lap, demanding a reading from a Cookie Monster book and names letters correctly when Daniel points at them.
Granton didn’t have his nap before receiving his IVIG treatment, but his mischievous somersault attempts into his sister after Daniel asks him to kiss her demonstrate the energy bubbling beneath the surface of the former “bubble boy.”