Defying the odds

PEABODY – Parents of 19-month-old Serenna Kadra – Lynn native James Kadra and Beverly native Kelly Tenney – have lived for most of Serenna?s short life knowing their daughter?s chance of survival was slim.Today though, Serenna?s prognosis is much better and for the first time outside of a medical setting on Saturday afternoon, she was in the company of her extended family, friends and supporters during a celebration at VFW Post 1011 in Peabody.The Item first reported Serenna?s heart-wrenching plight in early March 2012, when she was just 2 months old, not long after her spleen had been removed and doctors at Duke Children?s Hospital in Durham, N.C. diagnosed her with a rare blood disorder called Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), a potentially fatal condition in which white blood cells amass in organs including the spleen and destroy other blood cells.?We?ve gotten that call at 4 a.m. from the hospital telling us, ?Your daughter is probably not going to make it and you need to come in here and hold her for a couple of hours,?” James Kadra recalled on Saturday. “We were told multiple times she probably wasn?t going to survive [stem cell] transplant surgery because she was just so sick.”Serenna had that surgery on May 26, 2012 and remained hospitalized at Duke though last October. Despite some setbacks in her recovery during that period, Kelly Tenney said Serenna is now off most of her transplant support medications – she had 15 post-surgery and is now down to two medications – and is, happily, acting as toddlers do.?She has tantrums like most 2-year-olds,” Tenney said, laughing, as she held Serenna.James Kadra, who works for the Department of Defense, said Serenna is probably about 10 months behind developmentally. But her medical prognosis is now excellent, he said. Serenna visits an oncology clinic every three weeks for an exam and just last week was cleared to make the trip by car with her parents from their Virginia home to visit with family and friends in Lynn and the North Shore.Tenney planned the party Saturday as a means to thank the so many friends and relatives who have “kept us grounded” throughout their ordeal.Financially, James Kadra said he?s thankful to have a stable, good-paying job, but medical-related bills not covered by insurance, he admitted, are staggering.?I make good money, but I pay $1,000 a month to student loans and between that and rent for our house, that?s gone,” James Kadra said. “We pay $1,000 in medical bills, for things that insurance does not cover, like special formulas and special cream.”A fund for Serenna, the Help Serenna Trust, is open at Century Bank in Peabody. Saturday?s party then was not so much a benefit but a time to celebrate with all of those who have helped the family in any way.?We?ve had a lot of support, not just financially but prayers too … so I really felt it was important and necessary to say thank you.”Larry Kadra of Lynn, Serenna?s grandfather, added, “Everybody pitched in to help, it?s been quite a collective … If it wasn?t for the input of all of these people, Serenna might not be alive today.”And another bit of news added to the party atmosphere: James Kadra and Kelly Tenney have another baby on the way.

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