Skip to main content
IDF logo

Donor spotlight: The Spencer family

May 20, 2021

As babies, Lainey Spencer and her younger brother Krew Spencer struggled with persistent illnesses - ear infections, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Krew, the sickest of the two, even developed an unusual infection in his knee, which required a three-day hospital stay.

Mom Kara Spencer, a teacher, missed 30 days of school one year staying home to care for her children, and that didn’t count the time that her husband Lucas and her mother spent watching over the babies.

The Spencer family includes Lainey, 7, her brother Krew, 6, dad Lucas, and mom Kara.

Kara insisted to her pediatrician that her children suffered from something more than the usual childhood illnesses, but the doctor hesitated to investigate further.

“My children were just so sick. I kept telling my pediatrician, ‘This isn’t right,’ and she kept saying, ‘It’s the daycare funk,’ and I said, ‘No, I know about the daycare funk. I’m a teacher,’” said Kara.

Finally, the pediatrician ordered blood work to check for primary immunodeficiencies. Immunologists diagnosed Krew, one-year-old at the time, with IgM deficiency, specific antibody deficiency, and complement system disorder, and Lainey, three at the time, with IgA deficiency, specific antibody deficiency, and complement system disorder.

Shortly after their diagnoses, Kara and Lucas sought out the IDF as a resource and decided to participate in the IDF Walk for PI. Kara said becoming a part of the Walk for PI effort helps her family spread the word about primary immunodeficiencies.

“We want to advocate for my children and other people who have immune deficiencies. Also, we want to make people aware of it. Nobody has heard about it, and my family has really banded together and learned so much,” said Kara.

The Spencer family joined the Chicago Walks for PI in 2017 and 2018 and transitioned to the Indianapolis Walk for PI in 2019. Between money raised at annual garage sales, personal donations, and funds generated from the Walks, Kara estimates her family’s Walk contribution at about $1,000 annually during those years.

Then came 2020 and the challenges of the pandemic. The Spencers joined in the Indianapolis Walk for PI, but this time virtually. Despite the restrictions, the family still pulled together and raised $525. Kara said that as communities ease out of the pandemic, she’s hopeful that the 2021 Walks will allow her family and friends to organize once again some of the fundraising activities they’ve done in the past.

 “I definitely think we can do more fundraising this year. We can do our usual things, and then we plan on doing the Walk.   That’s our thing. That’s what we do,” said Kara.

Over the last several years, Lainey, now 7, and Krew, 6, have remained relatively healthy and don’t require immunoglobulin infusions, nor do they take preventative antibiotics. They have received vaccines and, for the most part, have launched immune responses. They also take allergy medication and vitamins.

Kara said that her family is fortunate that more medications aren’t required and that her children continue to do well.

“We are definitely blessed,” said Kara.