Denison toddler fights life-threatening disease

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DENISON, Texas -- As a Denison boy fights a rare and deadly disease, his parents watch hefty medicals bills slowly pile up.

Two-year-old Cooper Hayes has mucopolysaccharide disease type I, which is also known as Hurler syndrome or MPS I.

According to the National MPS Society, mucopolysaccharide disease only affects one in every 25,000 babies born in the United States.

Ashley Hayes, Cooper's mother, said the disease causes a lack of a certain enzyme. This means Cooper's body can't completely break down sugar moleclues.

Because of this, Hayes said, her son has an enlarged liver. He's also at risk for organ failure and severe bone structure issues.

In addition, Cooper could become mentally handicapped later in life.

In nearly a week, Cooper and his parents will leave for Minnesota for four to six months for the toddler to receive a bone marrow transplant.

"The doctor in Minnesota said that.. if we don't have the bone marrow transplant, he won't live past the age of ten," Hayes said.

Right now, Cooper goes to Dallas every Monday for enzyme treatments.

"That helps pretty much everything but it doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier," she said. "So the bone marrow transplant will help cross the blood-brain barrier.. help the enzymes get into other places that it's not going to already."

The bone marrow transplant is expected to stop the disease where it is now and keep it from progressing.

"Over time, things may worsen, but not as severe without it," she said.

Cooper is receiving the transplant just in time, Hayes explained, because doctors won't preform the operation after the age of three.

The toddler will also go through ten days of chemo prior to the transplant.

Hayes said Cooper was diagnosed after he repeatedly became sick during his first year of life. He also has an enlarged head and is a little behind in his speech development.

"We went in just for like a sinus infection, and they felt like he had an enlarged they just kind of put those together," she said.

After he was diagnosed, Cooper began treatment in Dallas -- that's when he was referred to the doctor in Minnesota through the National MPS Society.

Hayes said the disease in genetic, which has made it hard for her and her husband.

"At night time, when you're thinking about it all... 'I did this to him' or 'How did this happen,'" she said.

Since it's a genetic disease, Hayes said she was told that there's a 25 percent chance that any child after Cooper would be born with it, too.

The journey has been hard, she said, mostly when Cooper undergoes tests and treatments.

"When he hates something, and you just can't take it away - you can't make it stop," she said.

On a day-to-day basis, however, Cooper acts like a normal toddler.

Hayes said Cooper's medical bills have only just began to come in and are already pretty hefty.

Her and her husband expect them to only grow while they are in Minnesota for treatment.

Nubbies Buddies, a program that aides families in times of tragedy or emergency, has been helping the Hayes family along the way.

Nubbies Buddies helped set up a gofundme website where people can donate to the family.

You can find a link to it on this page under 'Related Links.' You'll also find a link to more information about MPS.

In addition, those who want to donate can also go to any Landmark Bank in the are and ask to donate to the 'Cooper Hayes Medical Fund.'