BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- A young Bowling Green woman has been battling a rare platelet disease and two autoimmune diseases nearly her entire life. After almost 18 years of searching for a cure, she thinks doctors may have found one. She's is set to have a bone marrow transplant within the next few weeks, and her transplant will the first of it's kind.
Ginny Gipson spent her first birthday at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University, when she first received her diagnosis. Now, at 18, she'll soon return for a bone marrow transplant there. Gipson has a rare disease that effects her blood platelets causing issues with her liver, kidneys, hearing and sight, and is compounded by two autoimmune diseases.
"Not only are my platelets too big and they don't work correctly because they're too big, but my body is killing them," said Ginny Gipson.
She hopes chemo and a bone marrow transplant will help solve some of the issues, and doctors at St. Jude and Vanderbilt say she'll be the first with her disease to have the transplant.
"Am I going to go right back to where I am? Would I reject it? Would it help it? Will I be cured? Will I be normal? We don't know," said Gipson.
Despite the unknown, Gipson believes this transplant will help more than just her.
"I feel like there's going to be a bigger reason than just my health. I think being the first one with this, could lead to other discoveries," said Gipson.
As for her donors, all she knows at this point is their age.
"Hopefully I get to talk to them. I'm really hoping that'll be something they're up to doing because I'd really love to be able to say thank you and just how gracious this was to go through the suffering for someone they never knew," said Gipson.
Gipson knows almost nothing about them, or many of the 212 people who tested to see if they were matches last spring in Bowling Green, or the nearly 5,000 supporting her on a Facebook page dedicated to her.
"I will never be able to say thank you to all those people, but it gives me so much encouragement and more reason to want to do this and to fight through this just knowing that people are listening to my story. They're listening and waiting for that good outcome.. that happy ending," said Gipson.
Gipson hopes her happy ending will include being able to walk the line at her high school graduation this May. She will spend about 100 days in recovery in Nashville before returning home where she could spend months having to avoid other people while her immune system adjusts.
Last year raised $3,000 for the National Bone Marrow Registry, which pays for the donor's procedures and the testing, during last year's drive at Greenwood Park Church of Christ.
Now, a tax deductible fund has been set up for Gipson through the church to help with treatment and transplant expenses.
Greenwood Park Church of Christ: (270) 781-0700