LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An 8-month-old Louisville girl is in the fight of her young life. Now her family's church and school community are not only rallying around her, they're asking for your help.
On the 7th floor of Kosair Children's Hospital, Dr. Jennifer Elster, a pediatric oncologist, described the environment, "There's always somebody in here holding her or loving on her."
"I think everybody loves Hadley," Elster said of 8-month-old patient Hadley Mercer, "I think everybody jokingly has said, they would love to take her home."
It's hard to look at Hadley's smiling face and not want to take her home. Her family, doctors, nurses and the Holy Trinity community hope you will consider joining Team Hadley - an effort to save her life by doing something simple.
"She's just a good baby," her mother Ashlie Mercer said. "Even through all this, she's such a fighter we call her our little fighter."
In December Hadley, her mom and dad, Brad Mercer, and her two sisters, 7-year-old Maddie and 5-year-old Molly began calling Kosair home.
"She stopped smiling and she wouldn't eat," Ashlie explained. "She got to the point where she couldn't hold her head up at all."
At first, doctors thought Hadley was suffering from an infection, possibly meningitis. "We got a call from the pathologist that the cells they were seeing in her spinal fluid weren't what you would see with infection," Dr. Elster explained. "They were really what you would see with some kind of cancer."
Hadley was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The baby girl began chemotherapy. "She had a really hard time with it," Ashlie said, "she had the mouth sores and she had fever."
In Hadley's case, a bone marrow transplant is needed to replace abnormal cells.
Her older sisters found out they're a perfect match for each other, but not for Hadley. "She does have a rare type," Dr. Elster said, "but that doesn't mean that there's nobody else that's a match, that just means we need to look for a much larger pool of people to find someone that is a match."
For that battle, Team Hadley is gearing up: Their little fighter has her own cape; classmates of sister Maddie have their Team Hadley T-shirts ready and those Holy Trinity first graders wrote their own stories for Hadley to help keep her smiling.
For the main event Holy Trinity is hosting a bone marrow donor registry drive Sunday, January 26. It's a cause hometown star Jennifer Lawrence is promoting on her foundation website after meeting Hadley at Kosair Children's Hospital while home over the holidays.
"We have had more support than we possibly could ever imagine and it's absolutely wonderful," Ashlie said. "We honestly could not get through this with our girls and with our family without all the help we have had, it has meant the world to us."
Hadley has another round of chemotherapy. She could have more cycles depending on how long it takes to get a bone marrow transplant.
The donor registry drive is being put on by the Be The Match Registry and will be held from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Holy Trinity, located at 501 Cherrywood Road, in the school lobby for people ages 18 to 44. The test is a simple cotton swab swipe inside your cheek. That's how easy it is. For anyone who's a match, the actual transplant is an out-patient procedure.
Starbucks will donate coffee and Plehn's Bakery will provide cookies and snacks for the Donor Registry Drive.