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Living A Normal Life

Macy Woolf is a bright and beautiful little girl who lives in Richland, Mich. The five-year-old loves to shop, watches videos with friends and goes to school.

But all of those everyday activities, which most kids and their parents take for granted, can be life threatening for Macy. The Early Show national correspondent Thalia Assuras has her story.

"When I look at Macy, I don't think of her as being sick," says her mom Karen Woolf.

But Macy is sick.

Karen Woolf explains, "Ear infection, one after another, thrush continuously. If it wasn't that, it was a sinus infection. If it wasn't sinus, it was pneumonia. It just seemed like we would just get one thing cleared up and we had another."

Starting at six weeks old, Macy suffered from countless bouts of illness. At 16 months, she was hit by a major bacterial infection.

Karen Woolf recalls, "She was just fine in the morning and by the afternoon, her cheeks just went really red and her temperature soared immediately and she just started moaning."

Antibiotics didn't work and Macy's condition became so severe, a nurse recommended calling a pastor. But Macy pulled through and her mother finally got an answer about what was so terribly wrong with her child.

Karen Woolf says, "I'm sitting there crying going somebody just tell me what does this mean. You know is she - what does this mean? And I still don't fully understand it I. I really don't. "

The diagnosis: Common Variable Immune Disorder. Macy's body simply doesn't make enough antibodies to help her fight off illnesses, even the common cold.

Five years old, five massive medical folders.

Her pediatrician, Dr. Eric Slosberg, says, "She's more prone to infections than other people. She has more frequent infections, more varied type of infections, a harder time getting rid of infections. And they are a greater threat to her well-being and to her life. "

Asked what it is like when she is sick, Macy says, "It hurts sometimes and I feel a lot better sometimes, when my Mom doesn't know it, but sometimes I get really sick and that doesn't feel better."

Macy's spent much of her short life here in her doctor's office and in hospitals, fighting infection after infection. She's undergone infusions to boost her immune system, painful eight-hour ordeals that often left her very ill.

In fact, they made her so sick that the infusions were stopped. Now, her doctor relies on various medications when infections arise. And even though Macy's mom wanted to keep her at home, Macy's doctor urged otherwise.

Dr. Slosberg says, "I think the goal for a child with a chronic illness is to make the child's life as normal as possible. And what does a normal five year-old do? They go off to kindergarten in September on the school bus."

How much did Macy want to go to school? "A real lot," she says.

Kindergarten means kids and kids mean germs. It's a dauntingly dangerous environment for a little girl whose immune system is weak.

But Macy's elementary school has a battle plan. Macy has an assigned bus seat, which is disinfected. Her teacher scrubs her table, chairs and locker. She has her very own box of crayons, pencils and glue.

Her teacher, Ronda Furrows, says, "It is a little extra work but we make do. We find a way to work it into our routine. And we do it for Macy's sake."

Antiseptic spray is always nearby and of course there's basic hygiene.

It all adds up to extra effort, which Macy can't help but notice.

Karen Woolf says, "The other night driving home she asked me, 'Why do I have to have my crayons and scissors in a baggy.?' And 'Why do they clean my seat?' I kept waiting for the question, which was, 'How come I'm different?' And I told her; I said, 'You're not different; you're just special. You're supposed to have good things in your blood and you don't have enough of the good stuff.' And 'Mom, mom, mom, I get it. I just want to know why I'm different?' You know, she got it, but she didn't get it."

Macy says, "They help me sometimes. I get sad because I don't want to be sick and I don't want to stay home all the time and go to the doctors. I want to go to kindergarten."

Kindergarten is just a step, but a big one for Macy. Her mom hopes a bigger one isn't far away.

"It would be nice if they could fix it, that's all," Karen Woolf says, "I would just like to go a full 12 months without her being sick."

But for now, Macy is happily doing what every five-year-old does.

Since school began, Macy has been ill twice. The hope for Macy is that doctors continue to handle all of her infections as they arise. Future infusions have not been ruled out, and a bone marrow transplant is a possibility. Perhaps in time, a new treatment will be found or the best solution, that Macy's own immune system starts working, will occur.

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