A 10-year-old Port Hardy boy’s bone marrow transfusion has defied doctors’ expectations with its initial success.
Tanner Walkus’ brother, Catlin, was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder known as aplastic anemia, which is when the body doesn’t produce enough white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
The past two years has meant Catlin, and his guardians have been in and out of hospitals for blood and platelets transfusions on a weekly basis.
It was after an extensive search that Catlin’s brother Tanner was looked at as a possible donor. Although only a 50 per cent match, and thought to be a long shot, doctors saw it as a good option.
On Feb. 27 bone marrow was taken from Tanner. This procedure can be terrifying for an adult, given the need to drill into bone to extract the material, let alone for an eight-year-old boy.
For Tanner, the mere thought of being able to help his brother get better was all the motivation he needed to step up and donate a part of himself. For his bravery in helping his older brother, Tanner was award a medal from the B.C. Children’s Hospital.
Although relatively soon to be labeled a complete success, given the chance for rejection, the guardian, who legally cannot be named, said that the doctors at the B.C. Children’s Hospital were amazed by how rapidly Catlin’s white blood cell count increased.
All steps were taken to ensure success though, said the boys’ guardian, with Catlin having to endure chemotherapy, which kills white blood cells so that the transplant isn’t confused by the body as an infection.
Despite the success of the transplant, Catlin’s immune system is very fragile given the fact that white blood cells are what the body creates to stave off infections. He will have to spend another 100 days in hospital for observation.
“When he comes home visitors who come into the house will have to wear face masks because his immune count is still low, although his white blood cell count has come up, it’s still (relatively) low,” said the guardian.
The guardian said, that even after two years of tests, pokes, and prods, what Catlin hates most about being sick is his inability to play soccer, a sport that he loves.
The past two years have been an emotional roller coaster ride, however through it all the guardian says that ultimately Catlin and his family are far better off than some that they shared the hospital with during their various trips down island for treatment.
“There are some kids down in B.C. Children’s Hospital that have been there 18 months and they are never ever going to go home, because they are going to die there.”
From his family’s experience over the past two years, and with their recent success, the guardian urges all those that hear Tanner and Catlin’s story to donate either blood, bone marrow, or both.
“Don’t be scared to give bone marrow or give blood or anything else, because there are lots of kids and adults who need it.”