Haley Knutsen is scheduled to be taken to yet another hospital today to be evaluated for a liver transplant she desperately needs.
The 9-year-old Gilbert girl will fly out in a medical jet to the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha for the evaluation, said her father, Chris Knutsen, an assistant principal at Chandler High School.
"We’re all just tired right now, and Haley is running out of time," he said. "We’re hoping things go well in Nebraska. It’s a bigger transplant facility, and we’re trying to stay positive."
The evaluation will take about three days and hopefully by the beginning of next week the Knutsen family should know if doctors will perform the liver transplant, Knutsen said.
Haley has battled leukemia since her second birthday. The cancer has been in remission since the latest bone marrow transplant, but years of chemotherapy and other treatments have left Haley with a wasted liver.
Haley was denied a liver transplant last month at California Children’s Hospital in San Diego because doctors said she needed more time to recover from her third bone marrow transplant, which took place about four months ago.
Chris Knutsen said it has been difficult to find a hospital willing to give Haley the transplant because his daughter is "such a risk."
After the San Diego trip, Haley returned to the University Medical Center in Tucson, where she’s been since April. She’s been on dialysis for the past three days for kidney failure and has been "incoherent and out of it," Knutsen said.
"She’s more coherent today (Wednesday) and said, ‘Daddy, I love you,’ when I came into her room," he said.
The family found out last month that Haley had reached the $1.5 million limit on her medical insurance policy. That news came days before a scheduled transplant surgery in Houston, and hospital administrators canceled the operation.
Since then, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System has provided emergency coverage, and Knutsen said he still isn’t sure if the insurance company will cover the entire cost of a transplant. He did hear that the University of Nebraska Medical Center has a contract with AHCCCS to pay for 70 percent of the transplant, but the funds are still up in the air, he said.
Chris Knutsen said he is amazed at the community outpouring and fundraising for his daughter. He said the community has raised about $160,000 so far.
"It’s amazing how the community has rallied around Haley," he said. "We weren’t able to get up there to see any of (the fundraisers) but we keep close contact. It’s really neat to see the community supporting Haley."
A poker tournament and a live and silent auction will be 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the San Marcos Resort, 1 San Marcos Place, Chandler.
For information, visit www.hopeforhaley.com.