Centers for Disease Control stepping in to help solve cancer mystery

A video and a written article from WXYZ-TV

MARINE CITY, Mich. (WXYZ) – At just seven-months old little Ireland Kulman has repeatedly gone under the knife. Doctors have even removed one of her kidneys.

Ireland is one of eight children in and around Marine City diagnosed with a rare kidney cancer called Wilms’ tumor. The cluster of cases is so unusual the Centers for Disease Control is now getting involved to help solve the mystery of why young children are becoming infected.

Last month Action News first introduced you to Ireland and several other children with the cancer, ten and under, who have undergone dozens of chemotherapy treatments, along with countless visits to doctor’s offices.

“Seeing your child tortured, poked and cut and having an organ removed, is horrible,” said Ireland’s mother, Marie Kulman.

The St. Clair County Department of Health tells Action News that only 500 cases of Wilms’ are diagnosed annually across the country, which is why the cluster of eight cases here is so disturbing.

At this point there is no explanation for the cases, but the parents of the kids with Wilms’ are blaming nearby chemical plants along the St. Clair River. Health officials say there is no evidence right now that the facilities are at fault.

An official with the CDC tells us investigators will be reviewing and analyzing data from the current cases of Wilms.’ At this point there has been no commitment to meet with families affected by the cancer. The CDC official also would not say whether water and air samples would be immediately tested.

As for Ireland and the other children affected by Wilms,’ they are all doing well in treatment, but there’s a long road ahead.

“We just want to find the truth so other families don’t have to go through this,” Kulman said.

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