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Coach and family raise awareness and funds for Fanconi anemia

Jimbo and Candi Fisher threw their support behind Fanconi anemia researchers at the University of Minnesota after their son Ethan (far right) was diagnosed with the disease. (Photo courtesy of Florida State University)

When Florida State University football coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, learned earlier this year that their son Ethan has a rare, life-threatening blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, they felt compelled to take action that would help not only Ethan but other children, too.

So they established the Kidz1stFund to raise money for Fanconi anemia research at the University of Minnesota. The University is a leader in discovering better ways to treat the disorder and in the pursuit of a cure.

A hereditary disease, Fanconi anemia can affect all systems in the body and leads to bone marrow failure. For decades, it was thought to be untreatable, but advances in medical research have improved the prognosis for people with the condition.

“One thing I’ve learned as a football coach is to never accept defeat,” says Jimbo Fisher. “We are in this to win the fight against Fanconi anemia on behalf of all the children who share this struggle with Ethan.”

The family and their supporters already have raised more than $400,000 for the University’s work. Six-year-old Ethan’s physician is University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital blood and marrow transplant physician Margaret MacMillan, M.D.

“Through research, improvements are made each year in treating patients with Fanconi anemia — improvements that have changed the survival rate after unrelated donor bone marrow transplant for this disease from less than 30 percent to greater than 80 percent in the last 15 years,” MacMillan says. “But there is much more to do. We will not stop until we have 100 percent survival.”

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