Two-year-old Luca was diagnosed with a cancer of the blood and bone marrow one year ago. His mother, Sharon, is thankful for blood and bone marrow donors who are saving her son’s life. Read her story:
On April 17, 2008, one week after a routine tonsil and adenoid surgery, we received a call that changed our lives forever. We were told our son, Luca, had T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We had to get him to the hospital right away because his white blood cell count was dangerously high.
From April through December of that year, we followed a high-risk protocol of weekly chemo treatments, occasional hospital stays and frequent bone marrow aspirates and spinal taps. The protocol would last for a little over three years if we stuck to it. Through it all, Luca remained an active and happy little boy; nothing seemed to slow him down.
Because Luca was high risk and his bone marrow tests still revealed some residual disease after four rounds of intensive chemo, we decided a bone marrow transplant was his best chance for preventing a relapse. Fortunately for us, an unrelated donor in the marrow registry was a match, and the donor was willing to donate for Luca.
On Jan. 8, we checked into Texas Children’s Hospital to begin the eight-day pre-transplant regimen. It consisted of eight doses of high-dose chemo over four days, and eight doses of full-body radiation spread out over four days. Luca sailed through the transplant wonderfully and had very few complications.
However, since that time Luca has developed several very common viruses and is still in the hospital being treated for them. He remains in good spirits and feels well, but we still have a long hard road ahead of us. He still receives blood and platelet transfusions just about every three days, as do many of the kids here in the bone marrow transplant unit.
We, along with the many other families battling cancer and other diseases, have relied on complete strangers who have given part of themselves to save our children. To those people who donate selflessly to save others, we say thank you.
- Sharon, mother of Luca
On April 7, the National Marrow Donor Program rolled out its Be the Match campaign at www.bethematch.org to help people like Luca. To join the registry as a potential marrow donor, just fill out a registration form and take a sample cheek swab at a Neighborhood Donor Center.
Recruiters from the Gulf Coast Marrow Donor Program will be at the Sugar Land, Pasadena, Champions, Gulfgate, Cy-Fair, Humble and Westchase locations for special bone marrow donor registration drive Friday, April 24. Be sure to stop by a center near you!