If any two people understand the curve balls life can throw, it’s Palmer and Lisa Dempsey. The Owensboro couple has been celebrating the life of their 2-month-old, Arabella, but it hasn’t been under the easiest of circumstances.
Arabella was diagnosed with hypophosphatasia and micrognathia with pulmonary hypoplasia. What this generally means is, Arabella was born with a genetic condition that causes abnormal development of the bones and teeth. According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, complications from this condition can be life-threatening.
Separately, the micrognathia Arabella suffers from is a facial malformation characterized by mandibular hypoplasia and a small, receding chin that fails to maintain the tongue in a forward position. Arabella’s pulmonary hypoplasia means her lungs are suffering from incomplete development.
Due to the extensive care Arabella requires in her beginning stages of life, Palmer and Lisa have had to make the best of a difficult situation, including separation of their family. Palmer works in Owensboro to provide for the family, while Lisa has been living in Cincinnati with Arabella, who’s receiving 24-hour care from doctors, nurses and specialists trained to help high-risk patients like Arabella. While Palmer drives to Cincinnati every chance he gets to see his newborn and wife, he also resides in Owensboro to work and care for the couples’ oldest daughter, Kylee.
Support for the couple was shown by friends, family members and co-workers last week at Legends Sports Bar & Grill. The restaurant hosted a Benefit for Arabella event that included a silent auction and tap takeover inspired to bring people out to support the Dempseys. The restaurant donated 10 percent of its day-long sales toward the family.
The night of the event, Legends was a packed house filled with more people than Palmer and Lisa ever imagined they’d see. The couple was embraced by hugs and kind words through the night’s entirety, leaving the two of them in awe of the situation.
“It’s been packed since 5, when it started,” Lisa said at the event. She added that the amount of support the two received was an overwhelming experience. “We had no idea so many people would show up.”
A number of items for the raffle drawings and silent auction were donated from several distilleries and breweries across the region, including Maker’s Mark, O.Z. Tyler and Country Boy. Lisa said each of auction items was sold within an hour-and-a-half.
Not only has the couple been battling the fight alongside their infant daughter, the Dempseys experienced a separate series of curve balls with their eldest, Kylee, who was diagnosed with infantile acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2014. After several surgeries and procedures, various treatments and countless nights in the hospital, the Dempseys were able to see their oldest daughter beat cancer. As for their youngest, the two are grateful for every day Arabella’s been given.
An enzyme replacement therapy (ERT) called asfotase alfa has been shown to improve bone manifestations in people with childhood onset HPP and has been approved by the FDA. As of now, Lisa is hopeful that the experimental treatment will allow her daughter’s rib bones to develop as the Dempseys continue to seeking every avenue for answers.