Burnsville resident Henry was a typical three-year-old who enjoyed playing with trains, riding his bike and swimming in lakes—until December 2015 when he and his family received some unexpected news.
Henry had been battling cold symptoms on and off for quite some time, and his parents thought he was just getting sick from the other kids at daycare. However, when the antibiotics didn’t work, Henry went back to the doctor where his blood work showed his white blood cell count was abnormally high. Doctors said he needed to go the hospital for more testing—and the results were shocking. Henry was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
“It all happened so fast,” said Henry’s mother, Kristina. “We had the doctor’s appointment late in the afternoon and were admitted to the hospital that night.”
Henry immediately began chemotherapy and his doctors determined that his best chance for a cure was a marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. Like 70 percent of patients, Henry did not have a fully matched donor in his family, so his doctors turned to the Be The Match Registry®, the world’s largest and most diverse listing of potential marrow and blood stem cell donors, in hopes of finding an unrelated donor match.
Within a few months, Henry’s doctors found two matching cord blood units on the registry. This month, he finally received his potentially life-saving transplant after completing one final round of chemotherapy.
“Henry’s diagnosis put everything in perspective,” said Kristina. “Things that mattered before don’t matter as much anymore, and we are so thankful for the amount of love and support we’ve received throughout this entire process.”
Henry’s family is sharing his story to bring awareness to the importance of marrow donors and encourage more people to participate in the Minneapolis Be The Match® Walk+Run on Saturday, May 14 at Lake Harriet. The 5K, 1K and Tot Trot raises funds to support marrow transplant research, help patients with uninsured treatment costs and add more volunteer potential marrow donors to Be The Match Registry.