One California family is desperately searching for a bone marrow or stem cell donor of Filipino descent to save the life of their nine-month-old son. Born in January, Baby Alexander Justin (“AJ”) was conceived via IVF following nearly eight years of infertility, according to a local FOX News affiliate. Just one month ago AJ was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a cancer of the blood and bone marrow that is rarely seen in infants.
His parents were first told that he had pneumonia after he began spitting up food and refusing bottles, but when antibiotics did not help he was taken to the ER. A few days into his hospital stay, an oncologist told his parents that his bloodwork was consistent with leukemia.
According to the FOX News interview with AJ’s dad Eric, AML has a 65% cure rate, but that hinges on finding a suitable bone marrow or stem cell match for little AJ. He needs a donor of Filipino descent like him who also has the same antigens because, according to a representative of the Asian American Donor Registry, “[s]ome [antigens] are only found in the Filipino community, they won’t be found in the Chinese or Vietnamese community, or Caucasian community.” Usually, siblings would be the ideal match, but AJ is an only child. According to statistics provided in the interview, only about half of one percent of all national donor registrants are Filipino.
Interested individuals are encouraged to visit the Asian American Donor Program website to request a donor registration kit. A GoFundMe page set up by AJ’s aunt states that since AJ’s story first ran on October 31st, 3,000 kits have already been requested. The GoFundMe goal of $30,000 to offset AJ’s medical expenses — especially in light of his father’s recent unemployment and his mother’s exhaustion of her paid leave of absence benefits during her maternity leave — has been reached and exceeded by nearly $7,000 as of November 5.
The GoFundMe page provides more context to AJ’s current medical situation, and just how rare it is. “Leukemia in infants is rare. Only about 160 cases are diagnosed per year. Furthermore, it is very rare for minimally differentiated leukemia to present in an infant less than a year old. AJ has also developed a mediastinal tumor. This chest mass is pressing on his airway and blood vessels. This is not typically a symptom of AML, further complicating AJ’s condition.”
A November 4th update noted that following AJ’s first full round of chemotherapy he has developed a bacterial infection due to a known chemo side effect of reduced immunity/increased vulnerability to infections. His parents wrote, “Our baby boy has been working so hard since being admitted at the hospital 30 days ago. We pray that he is healing and will beat this horrible disease. Again, we thank you all for continuing to keep us in your prayers.”
Editor’s Note: Live Action News has previously reported on ethical issues related to IVF.
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