The St. Louis Blues are starting a new season – and so is Laila.
See what happens next in “Laila: The Next Season.”
Oct. 2, 2019 (ST. LOUIS) – “Laila: The Next Season” is a documentary currently under production by St. Louis Children’s Hospital featuring Laila Anderson and the St. Louis Blues. As Laila herself says in the film’s trailer, which debuts October 2 during the Blues home opener, “There’s the story people think they know about me. Then there’s the real story.”
The film captures the real, and in some cases untold story of how Laila’s journey – from how her mystery illness was diagnosed, to her search for a bone marrow donor, to how her road to recovery became a symbol and inspiration for the St. Louis Blues as they made their own dramatic and legendary recovery.
The exclusive documentary will also look into what happened after the Stanley Cup victory and where Laila, and her beloved ‘boys,’ are now.
The air-date and network for the 22-minute feature are still being finalized. The film will include interviews with:
- Laila Anderson, the 11-year-old who inspired a city as she went through treatment for a rare blood disease
- Heather Anderson, Laila’s mom, who experienced this journey from her daughter’s side
- Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues defenseman who connected with Laila during a Children’s Halloween event in 2018 and celebrated with Laila on the ice in Boston after Game 7
- Dr. Jeff Bednarski, a Washington University pediatric oncologist and hematologist at Siteman Kids at St. Louis Children’s Hospital who has cared for Laila during her bone marrow transplant
As the film is currently under production, more information, including behind-the-scenes footage and Heather’s personal journal entries from Laila’s journey (entitled “This Time Last Season”) will be available on LailaFilm.com.
Laila’s Health and Care Last Season
Laila’s journey began two years ago when she started experiencing headaches and vomiting. She came to St. Louis Children’s Hospital where numerous tests and MRIs over the span of a few weeks showed her brain condition was deteriorating. Doctors struggled to diagnose her condition and Laila endured numerous treatments without much improvement in her symptoms.
Then in September 2018, almost one year after her first symptoms appeared, doctors found an answer through genetic testing: Laila had hemophagocytic lymphohistiosis, or HLH, a rare, life-threatening disorder of the immune system in which immune cells grow out of control and attack the body, causing organ damage. In Laila’s case, the immune system was attacking her brain. HLH can be difficult to diagnose because it often looks like other conditions. Laila is just one of 15 children in the world who have had a solely neurologic manifestation of the disease, which made it even more challenging to pinpoint a diagnosis. The only known cure for HLH is bone marrow transplant (BMT).
In October 2018, Laila started 10 weeks of chemotherapy to suppress her overactive immune system and to prepare for a BMT. In February 2018, Laila was admitted to St. Louis Children’s hospital for her transplant. She spent one month in an isolation room in the hospital to prevent infection while her immune system rebounded. Heather was allowed to put Blues stickers on Laila’s hospital room windows. She had to clean them every day to keep the room sterile. The joy they brought her daughter made it worth it.
After Laila’s month of isolation, she spent another two months at home with continued restrictions, including not attending school or areas with big crowds. In May 2019, as the Blues were chasing the Stanley Cup, Heather received special permission from Laila’s doctor to go to a playoff game with special precautions. It would be Laila’s first excursion since her BMT and one of her first introductions to the country – who fell in love with her determination and passion for the Blues.
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St. Louis Children's Hospital has provided exceptional care for children in all 50 states and 80 countries around the world. With its academic partner, Washington University School of Medicine, Children’s is consistently ranked among the nation’s best pediatric hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. A member of BJC HealthCare, St. Louis Children’s Hospital follows one simple mission – to do what’s right for kids. That mission comes to life through medical discovery, innovative therapies and compassionate care. In 2018, Children's expanded with a state-of-the-art, 12-story medical tower. Children’s relies on generous donations to deliver specialized care for families in need, extend health care services to the community, and pursue research that promises to transform pediatric medicine. To find out more, visit StLouisChildrens.org, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.