Family uses social media to land bone marrow transplant for 6-year-old in Milwaukee
Courtny Gerrish reportsPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
MILWAUKEE- All roads led to Wisconsin for one family looking for a life saving cure for their son. Now they hope their story, and push to educate people, can help other families on the same journey.
The Larkin family has called the Milwaukee area home for months. Jake Larkin has a rare condition that can only be cured by a "gift" from a stranger.
Six-year-old Jake is about to undergo a life saving procedure. His mom, Kimberly told TODAY'S TMJ4, "I think maybe it's a blessing he doesn't get how sick he really is." A donor's bone marrow will replace his, or as Jake explains it -- he's getting new "bone batteries." What the Larkin family has been praying for since February. It's been a frightening journey. "He said he was scared; I tried to tell him I wasn't but I am," Kimberly shared.
Jake was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia, a rare condition that prevents him from producing enough blood cells. The first step for this San Francisco family -- finding the best care and a donor. That led the Larkin's to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and social media. They reached out to the masses. "We needed to educate folks we were asking this incredible gift from," Kimberly said.
A video on Jake's website does that and tells people how to help, which includes spreading the word about Jake's story. A story that has blanketed social media. The goal? Get more people on the marrow registry. This big push is because finding a match for Jake has been tough.
"It took a while for us to find the so called 'needle in a haystack' for Jake," Dr. David Margolis pointed out. He's the medical director of the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at Children's Hospital. He's also Jake's doctor. What Dr. Margolis wants people to know, being a donor is a safe process and there's little down time. "It's not a big deal from the perspective of it does not impact their physical life, but it is a big deal because they've saved a life." A message Dr. Margolis says social media is helping to promote.
It worked for Jake. Finally a "perfect match" for the Larkin's tough little boy who hasn't lost his spirit or his sense of humor. Jake's donor marrow was transplanted through an IV. It was a successful procedure! Something Jake's mom wishes could happen for everyone. "There shouldn't be a waiting list, people shouldn't be waiting. We all have bone marrow; it's painless to give up."
There is a huge demand for more donors. 10,000 people need a bone marrow transplant, only half will receive one.
For more information on how to donate bone marrow click here, and here.