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Redmond girl 'feels good' after innovative procedure

By Kim Tobin
Published On: Apr 03 2013 06:30:51 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 03 2013 08:20:10 PM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Kim Tobin has the latest details on 10-year-old Avrey Walker's third fight with leukemia, after she underwent an experimental procedure.

REDMOND, Ore. -

Avrey Walker, 10, of Redmond is improving significantly after she recently underwent an experimental procedure in Philadelphia. She's battling leukemia for the third time, and her family says they're staying optimistic that she will win her fight.

"I feel good," Avrey said this week from the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia. "I had a few side effects that made me have some headaches and stuff like that, but other than that, I'm good."

Just two weeks ago at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Avrey received new T-cells. They are engineered with a disabled HIV virus that's attacking her cancer cells.

"We've already seen a dramatic difference in the way she looks, and the way she feels," said Avrey's dad, Aaron Walker. "They're working."

Doctors were anticipating a different reaction from Avrey. Only a few other children have tried the treatment, and most of them got very sick afterward. Some of them were near death before their cancer cells were killed.

After a six-year battle, it took just 10 seconds to inject Avrey with the new cells. Ten days later, she was feeling better.

"It almost feels too good to be true," Aaron said.

The family will have to wait and find out if it is too good to be true. Doctors are constantly testing Avrey's blood, and she will have a bone marrow biopsy in the coming weeks to find out what the T-cells have done.

While staying in Philadelphia, she's also made some new friends at the Ronald McDonald House.

"Her name is Courtney," Avrey said. "She always comes over and knocks on my door and asks if I can play. And we just run around and be crazy."

Avrey and her family have also had a chance to explore the City of Brotherly Love.

"We went to the penitentiary, which was pretty cool, and we went to the aquarium and the Franklin Institute," she said.

After such long fight, there is a shadow of doubt, but the family says they're staying optimistic that Avrey has been cured.

"I feel blessed and I feel ecstatic that we can actually have a normal life again, which is something we haven't had for quite some time," Aaron said.

And Avrey said she is excited to get home to see her best friend, her classmates and her sister.

"All my family at home and all my other friends have been having benefits for me, so I wanted to say thank you," she said.

This Saturday, there will be a day dedicated to Avrey at Coyote Ranch in Redmond. It starts with poker tournament a noon. At 6 p.m., there will be a dinner, auction and performances. Tickets are $45 in advance and $55 at the door.

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