Anmore boy needs bone marrow transplant

Posted: October 13, 2012 at 2:29 am

METRO VANCOUVER -- It started with a routine blood test after a bout of pneumonia.

But since finding two rare bone marrow conditions, the family of 11-year-old Jonathan Barnes has been campaigning to shore up the list of potential marrow donors, and to keep local blood banks stocked.

Without finding a bone marrow donor who will match Jonathan's criteria, the Anmore youngster will likely end up with leukemia. Despite the frightening prospect, Jonathan and his family are meeting the challenge with poise.

"He knows he has a condition called myelodysplasia. He knows that he needs to have a bone marrow transplant," said Mariam Barnes, Jonathan's mother.

"He knows he will get cancer if he doesn't have the transplant. But in the way that children are always so wonderfully unique, he's not fazed by that."

While finding an exact match is extremely difficult, getting on the donor list is easier than most people might think, Barnes said.

"A lot of people don't do it because they think it's involving needles but the beginning step is just a mouth swab. It comes to you in the post and you post it back, and they put you on the register," she said.

"What we didn't know and what I don't think many people know, is that they're desperately short of young male donors . There's 19 million people on the transplant register across the world, but only 10 per cent of those are the groups that they need - ethnically diverse young men."

It would be easier to find a match for the family if they could use donated stem cells from umbilical chords, but that procedure won't be available in Canada until next year and the Barnes don't have that much time, she said.

"We're just praying and hoping that someone, somewhere in the world, will put forward a match that will fit with Jonathan."

Anmore boy needs bone marrow transplant

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