Six-year-old Owen is a rambunctious little boy who is truly a “super hero.” Always outfitted in his signature cape, he, like other super heroes, has a story that first made him super. He wasn’t bit by a radioactive insect or rocketed from another planet, rather, he defeated some atypical ‘bad guys’—bad blood cells.
It all began when Paula, Owen’s mother, took one-year-old Owen to his regular checkup. A healthy baby, Paula was shocked when routine tests revealed Owen’s platelet count was severely low. Further tests were needed and, weeks later, the devastating diagnosis was official—myelodysplasia (MDS) with monosomy 7, a rare bone marrow disorder most common in adults over 60. Baby Owen’s only hope was a marrow transplant.
Devastated and shocked, Paula began to equip herself with knowledge. “I wanted to be able to talk to the doctors and not have the doctors talk at me,” she says.
With no matches in his family, Owen’s doctors turned to Be The Match®. Two well matched donors were quickly found, a young man from Germany stepped forward to give Owen a second chance at life.
His transplant was successful, but post-transplant complications—including adenovirus, a respiratory infection, and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD)—made Owen a very sick little boy. Despite the challenges, Owen remained playful and happy. “Even when he was at his lowest points and throwing up, Owen would simply pickup and move on,” says Paula. “We started calling him ‘Super Owen’ because of his inspiring will and courage.”
Owen’s resilience gave Paula courage as well. As a single parent, doctors and nurses spent time with Owen during their breaks so Paula could shower and eat. There were also financial complications, but Paula stayed optimistic and, thankfully, 118 days post-transplant, Owen was healthy enough to go home.
This May, Owen celebrates his 5 year transplant anniversary. Cured of his bone marrow disorder, he is a kindergartner who loves to wear capes and eat chocolate.
An avid supporter of Be The Match, Paula gives thanks for his life every day. “I don’t know if I’ll ever not feel like a cancer mom, but together we are adjusting to our new normal,” says Paula.
Join us to hear Paula share their inspirational story at our Fourth Annual Be The Match Breakfast, on March 12, 2015.