Our 11-year-old son, Aaryan is the light in our lives. He has the ability to bring a smile to our faces, no matter when or where. Throughout his life, he has been an active, playful child – playing baseball, soccer, and of course, video games.
He cares deeply for others. His consideration and empathy run strong, as he puts others before himself.
In early November 2015, we noticed bruising on Aaryan, but dismissed it as the result of a typical boy who loves to play. As each day passed, though, more and more bruising became visible.
On November 13, 2015 Aaryan experienced extensive gum bleeding. We knew that something was wrong, so we took him to Sick Kids Emergency Department in Toronto.
After numerous rounds of blood work, doctors determined that Aaryan had life-threatening low blood counts. He was admitted into Sick Kids. During his stay, Aaryan received numerous blood transfusions and a bone marrow aspiration/biopsy. We were devastated to learn that our son was diagnosed with aplastic anemia.
Our lives launched into a new routine. For several months, Aaryan went to Sick Kids twice a week for routine blood work and blood transfusions. Without the transfusions, Aaryan would become vulnerable to infections and hemorrhaging.
There are drug therapy treatments available for his condition, but Aaryan’s best chance of a cure is through a stem cell transplant. We do not have a match within our family, so we are relying on an unrelated volunteer donor.
Finding a match for Aaryan is especially challenging. Aaryan is of mixed heritage: I am Vietnamese and my husband is Afghan. We’ve been told that a patient’s best chance of finding an unrelated match is with someone of a similar ancestry.
And the reality is there are hundreds of Canadians – just like Aaryan – who are searching for a stem cell donor. Families like ours are searching and waiting to receive a call that a match has been found; that there is hope for their family.
Many expectant mothers don’t realize that they can help another family with a simple gift. By donating their umbilical cord blood when they deliver their babies, they may be able to help save the life of a patient like Aaryan.
Umbilical cord blood is rich with blood-forming stem cells. Cord blood stem cell transplants are used for treating over 80 diseases and disorders – including aplastic anemia.
Donating cord blood is easy and free of cost. Healthy volunteer mothers can donate to Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank if they are delivering at one of five designated collection hospitals across the country.
For many patients, a blood stem cell transplant is the last and best hope of recovery.
I would like to encourage mothers to #GiveLifeTwice by donating their baby’s umbilical cord blood. More information can be found at www.givelifetwice.ca
As we wait, hopeful that a match will be found, Aaryan continues to amaze us every day with his strength and bravery.