John Marcum-Aplastic Anemia

John is just a regular 9 year old boy in a regular family. He loves to play with Legos and Minecraft. This regular family went to bed on the evening of May 10 just like any other night. Little did they know that John’s body was having a fight with itself and he was about to lose the fight. Just like being in a fight, when John woke up the next morning, he had bruises all over his body, some as small as a pin prick, others as large as a softball.

John’s blood was failing him. He wasn’t making platelets. Soon, it wouldn’t be making any ingredients for healthy blood, like red and white blood cells. Ultimately, they discovered he has severe aplastic anemia. It means his bone marrow stopped producing all the things that your blood needs.

The doctors kept giving him blood and platelets while they got him ready for a new drug therapy. Despite having to stop this treatment early as it was causing his kidneys to fail, it was enough to jump start his body. Today, his blood is good. For how long, no one knows.

The final treatment is a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, he has no match on the registry, just like so many others fighting this and other blood diseases or cancer.

So, how did this happen? They don’t know. They don’t think it was genetic. On rare occasion, after the body fights an infections (usually a virus), the body turns on itself and, in this case, it attacks the bone marrow, robbing it of the ability to make healthy blood.

Despite it all, John hasn’t become his disease. He still builds with Legos for hours (he even watches Lego building videos). John plays and argues with his brother, cleans his room (ok, he is 9, so “clean” is a relative term), adores his dad, and loves his mom and brothers (at 9 he will still give them a hug on occasion). His family takes the blessing of each healthy day, but never knows whether they will get another.

They hope John’s bone marrow match is out there somewhere and will register soon!