Fisher: 6-year-old fighting rare blood disease
Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife Candi
said Friday they have started a fundraising organization to raise
money to help their youngest son and others fight a rare
life-threatening blood disease.
Both parents also asked people to join the National Marrow Donor
Registry during an emotional half-hour news conference.
”There are so many people out there who need bone marrow
transplants who can’t find the right match,” Candi Fisher said.
”That’s something that you can do to help us.”
With a large university auditorium room crowded with friends,
media and many Seminole players, the Fishers said 6-year-old Ethan
suffers from Fanconi anemia and will eventually require a bone
Once considered untreatable, the recessive gene disorder affects
roughly one of every 300,000 people. Because the disease is so
rare, it has been hard for researchers to obtain federal grants to
help them in pursuit of a cure.
But Ethan’s specialist, Dr. Margaret MacMillan, and the Fishers
want to change that.
”We are in this to win the fight against Fanconi anemia on
behalf of all the children who share this struggle with Ethan,”
the second-year Florida State coach said Friday. ”We’re here to
find a cure.”
Ethan and his 10-year-old brother, Trey, posed for photos with
their parents prior to the start of the news conference, but did
not stay for the announcement. Trey has been screened and does not
have the disease.
Fisher said dealing with Ethan’s illness, diagnosed March 28 at
Shands Hospital in Gainesville, has been the most difficult thing
”The unknown was the greatest fear,” he said. ”You have to
know whether it’s good, bad or indifferent so you can get a plan of
attack. Then you get everything together and go after it.”
Candi Fisher, will head the Kidz 1st Fund, will work to raise
money through the sale of t-shirts, wristbands and online
donations. Jimbo Fisher said he will donate all fees from public
speaking appearances to the fund.
Nick Saban, who was Fisher’s boss at LSU a decade ago, was among
the first to contribute to the Fishers’ newly created
”When it comes to relationships, they’re way more important
than playing football games,” Saban said.
Roughly 1,000 children in the U.S. have the disorder, which is
frequently discovered when a child is suspected to have the flu.
Bone marrow transplants may also be recommended for people who
suffer from certain type of cancers, other types of anemia or
severe immunodeficiency syndromes.
Florida State assistant baseball coach Mike Martin Jr., who has
two sons the same age as Trey and Ethan and is close to their
family, said there was never any doubt that Fisher and his wife
would get involved in a project to accelerate research into the
”After the initial shock, Jimbo said, `watch this, watch us
tackle this one,”’ Martin related. ”They’re going to meet it head
The Fishers’ battle with the disease led them to the University
of Minnesota and MacMillan, a Canadian-born pediatric blood and
marrow transplant physician.
MacMillan said children are generally diagnosed with Fanconi
anemia around age 7 and the median age for the transplant is 11.
Survival rates for Fanconi anemia patients have dramatically
improved in recent years, but the disorder also heightens the
chance of an individual being afflicted with cancer or leukemia
later in life.
”The good thing for Ethan is he’s very healthy right now,”
MacMillan said the survival rate after an unrelated donor bone
marrow transplant has increased from less than 30 percent to more
than 80 percent in the last 15 years.
”Our goal is nothing short of 100 percent survival,” she