Prairie Profiles: Dacoda Malakowsky

Published 9:20 am Tuesday, December 2, 2008

There are times when Amanda Malakowsky wonders how her son could have a rare disease, yet still have so much energy.

“I think sometimes the doctors even wonder,” she said.

Looking at him, 2 1/2-year-old Dacoda Malakowsky appears to be every bit the all-American boy, with his blond hair, blue eyes and dimples.

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But on Father’s Day of this year, Dacoda was running a fever and had no appetite.

“For a little boy who loves mashed potatoes, we knew something was wrong,” his mother said.

A trip to Albert Lea Medical Center’s showed he had pneumonia. He was taken by ambulance from Albert Lea Medical Center to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester for further testing. On June 17, doctors there discovered he had Epstein Barr virus, commonly known as mononeucleosis.

The doctors also said a test for leukemia was in order. While the bone marrow biopsy ruled out leukemia, it did reveal Myelodysplastic Syndrome Monosomy 7, a pre-leukemia, on June 20. The only cure for the rare blood disease is a bone marrow transplant.

While he was in the hospital, Dacoda needed three blood transfusions and his spleen was so large that doctors considered taking it out, his mother said.

He was released from the hospital on June 25, but doctors continued to monitor his blood and spleen, which started to decrease in size.

As the family was getting ready to go to the Farm & City Days Parade in New Richland on July 12, Dacoda suffered a seizure. Paramedics found he had a fever of 103 degrees and had suffered a febrile seizure. Because Dacoda’s doctors were in Rochester, he was sent there. The family returned home about midnight, his mother added.

“My goal is to keep him from having another seizure,” she said. “It was really freaky.”

While family members were tested as possible bone marrow donors, they were not matches. On Nov. 5, through a registry, a donor was found. Dacoda will have a central line put in on Dec. 29 along with another bone marrow biopsy to make sure the disease has not progressed to leukemia.

If all goes well, he will start two days of chemotherapy on Jan. 9 or 10. This will be followed by three days of complete body radiation starting on Jan. 12. The bone marrow transplant will be Jan. 15 or 16.

Doctors will be able to tell if the new bone marrow is working about 21 days after the transplant.

If all goes well, he is expected to be in the hospital for about 30 days after the transplant. From there, the family will stay at the Ronald McDonald House.

“He is most critical to day 100, and we may be in Rochester than long from transplant day,” Amanda said. “Hopefully, he’ll be home for his third birthday on May 10.”

It’s been stressful for the family.

“Tiara has worried about him a lot,” Amanda said of Dacoda’s sister. “For David and me, we’ve kept so busy we don’t have much time to think about it.”

The whole ordeal has taken its toll on the family not only emotionally, but financially as well. A benefit has been scheduled for Dacoda on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the New Richland City Hall.

Age: 2 1/2

Residence: 31955 660th Ave., Hartland

Livelihood: Toddler

Family: Parents David and Amanda Malakowsky; sister, Tiara, 6; and brother, Tylar, almost 5.

Interesting fact: Dacoda likes riding in the tractor with his dad and in the grain-hauling truck with his mom.

The New Richland Lions will be making pancakes. There will be supplemental funds by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans. There will also be a silent auction.

Some of the items donated include Minnesota Wild tickets, an autographed photo of Viking Adrian Peterson, signed photos and shirt from “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” gift certificates, prints, homemade candles, shirts and jams and jellies.