Mighty Blog

Shine Bright: Carpenter family story

The families we meet in our Cancer and Blood Disorders program come to us with unique stories. For the Carpenter family, the story begins across the world.

Adopting Bhanu

In 2017, Brian and Leah Carpenter — already parents to daughters Emilia and Kaelin — were considering adding to their family through adoption. They learned about Bhanu, a 3-year-old in India living with severe thalassemia, an incurable blood disease that requires lifelong care. As soon as they saw her picture, they knew: this was their daughter.

The Carpenter family at home

They traveled nearly 8,000 miles in an emotional journey to bring her home. With her new sisters’ support, Bhanu adjusted fairly quickly to life in the United States, learned English and, like any good Minnesotan, even got hooked on hockey.

The Carpenters had a lot to learn about thalassemia, which requires blood transfusions every month. Children’s Minnesota, they say, helped them with all of it: the transfusions, the medicines, the implications for her growth and development — and the many adjustments they needed to make as a family living with medical complexity.

The Carpenters were overjoyed with their new family of five. They felt complete.

Growing their family, again

Bhanu in a hospital bed at Children's Minnesota

And that’s why a phone call nearly a year later caught them by surprise. Their adoption agency reached out to tell the family about twin girls from China, who also had thalassemia. The same kind Bhanu has.

Brian and Leah wondered, is this something we could take on? They asked the experts in the Cancer and Blood Disorders program at Children’s Minnesota, who were already part of their lives thanks to Bhanu, for guidance. Dr. Stephanie Fritch Lilla, hematologist and medical director of the sickle cell program, and her teammates spent time counseling them, explaining things, reassuring the family.

Yes,” she said, “You can handle this. We can handle this. Together.”

In October 2019, the entire family went to China to bring home the twins. Isla and Eden were welcomed with love by their new sisters and became part of a big, loving family. They will be first graders this fall.

Isla and Eden in a hospital bed at Children's Minnesota

The Carpenters and Children’s Minnesota

Every four weeks, all three girls spend the day at Children’s Minnesota hospital in Minneapolis for medical care that is truly life-giving. The Carpenters say they’re so grateful to the team there who coordinate everything, from the transfusions to the all-important medication reviews, the child life support, music therapy, etc.

Brian and Leah are tireless supporters of Children’s Minnesota, who give to support the work of our Cancer and Blood Disorders team. We are so grateful for their generosity, and honored to be part of their family’s life.

Bhanu, Isla and Eden at home

Make a difference 

Shine Bright for Kids is a fundraiser for the cancer and blood disorders program at Children’s Minnesota, which cares for more than 3,500 kids — from babies to young adults — every year.

Your support can make a difference for patients living with blood disorders, like Bhanu, Isla and Eden. Your gift supports everything from special therapies to life-saving research to mortgage and rent relief. Donate now at childrensmn.org/shinebrightforkids.