MADISON, AL (WAFF) - Every day, someone in the Tennessee Valley will hear the difficult news that they are facing a terminal illness. That kind of news can shake a family to its core.
But one couple in Madison is calling a grim diagnosis a blessing.
Megan and Paul Carlson say they felt ready to deal with any challenges as their large family became even larger when they adopted their daughter from China.
Today they are truly counting on their faith and their community after a truly unexpected turn of events.
Maelin-Kate, or Mei-Mei, has been on the go since she arrived in her forever home in September.
The Carlsons say she is a smart, sweet, funny three-year-old who embraces life at every turn.
When they adopted Maelin-Kate, they knew she would likely need surgery to correct a hip problem. It wasn't until routine lab testing that doctors found something else.
They discovered she has a rare blood disorder called Fanconi Anemia.
"It eventually will turn into Leukemia. Right now, she does not have Leukemia but eventually, it will become Leukemia if she does not get a bone marrow transplant," said Megan Carlson, Maelin-Kate's mother.
Naturally, the Carlson's were concerned after hearing the diagnosis, but they were thankful for the timing.
They feel like Maelin-Kate's adoption may have saved her life.
"If she had stayed in China, it likely would have been a death sentence. So we just felt extremely blessed that she's here. She saw the right doctors at exactly the right time. So she's able to get the right treatment and to live a healthy, normal life."
Since the Carlson's aren't blood relatives, they likely won't be a bone marrow match for their daughter.
That's why they are teaming up with BeTheMatch.org, a network that aims to connect patients with people who are willing to donate.
Like most children, Maelin-Kate is very excited about Christmas and a visit from Santa Claus.
This year, she wants stuffed animals and dresses for Christmas.
Her parents and her four brothers are praying for just the right bone marrow that will protect her from any cancer development.
"She's amazing! I mean, absolutely. There's not a child in this world that is a better fit for our family than this little girl!"
The Carlsons say, becoming a bone marrow donor is very easy to do.
They say it just takes a few minutes to sign up and take a swab inside your cheek.
Asbury Church in Madison is holding a donor drive on December 2, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
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