First Posted: 5/8/2013
Kristy DeRome was just three months old when she was diagnosed with thalassemia, a rare blood disorder. The news was devastating to her parents, Furry and Mary DeRome, of Hughestown. The doctors told them not to expect their baby to live past her teens.
Though it’s been a rough go, that 3-month-old beat the odds. Today, she is 35-year-old Kristy DeRome Gomberg. She organized a Care Walk to benefit Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, an organization with a mission to advance the treatment and cure for thalassemia, on May 5 at Robert Yaple Park in Hughestown.
“The walk definitely exceeded my expectations, Gomberg said. “My goal was to raise $1,000 for the foundation and we are at $2,400. We had over 100 people and we are that much closer to finding a cure.”
Kristy’s husband Paul walked alongside her during the mile-long walk. “He’s supported me in everything,” she said. “We’ve been together almost 10 years and we’ve been through a lot together.”
DeRome has been fighting the effects of thalassemia for 35 years. She travels to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for regular blood transfusions. The blood transfusions, as they do for all patients, build up an iron overload in her vital organs and she has to be hooked up to an infusion pump 12 hours a night to remove the iron.
She takes numerous medications and has severe osteoporosis issues. She has no spleen and can’t fight infections. Though the blood transfusions have caused Lyme disease and babeseosis (a malaria-like disease), she needs them to survive. As it is with all thalassemia patients, the transfusions are a chance she has to take.
Despite it all, Gomberg is a fighter and an optimist. “It can always be worse,” she said.
In an email she wrote: “Thank you so much to everyone who registered, sponsored, made baskets or monetary donations or had any part in making the day possible. I hope to make it a tradition. You really do not know how much this means to me personally and the Thalassemia Community. Special thanks go to my mother and father who provided so much of their time, and I could not have done it without them and my sister who provided her time in making all of the posters.
“Thank you to Anup Patel (Carriage Stop Plaza/ Sunoco) for donating all of the water and donuts and the mayor and council of Hughestown Borough for allowing us to use the park.”