Springettsbury toddler needs a bone marrow transplant

Posted: October 11, 2012 at 3:23 am

Joey Duffy of Springettsbury Township is looking for a match.

Two-year-old Joey Duffy yawns as his mother, Maura, vents his stomach via a feeding tube after he was fed at their Springettsbury Township home on Friday. Joey, who has previously had esophageal stricture, has been in and out of the hospital all summer and is in need of a bone marrow transplant. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - CHRIS DUNN)

Two-year-old Joey Duffy played with his "Sesame Street" doll Ernie, watched the television show "Yo Gabba Gabba" and occasionally called out "mamma" while his parents talked about a bone marrow transplant he needs.

The toddler was diagnosed about five weeks ago with Myelodysplastic Syndromes, also known as MDS, a blood and bone marrow disorder. It's the same ailment that Robin Roberts of "Good Morning America" is receiving treatment for currently.

The disease can progress to leukemia, parents Tom and Maura Duffy said at their Springettsbury Township home. They are lucky that doctors at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore caught the condition when they did for their youngest son.

"We're ahead of the game," Maura Duffy said. "We caught this very early."

The only cure is a bone marrow transplant, and the parents as well as their two older sons, 5-year-old Tommy and 4-year-old Mick, have already submitted a cheek swab to see if they will be a match for Joey. His brothers are the best chance, Maura Duffy said.

Meanwhile, the family is organizing an Oct. 21 donor drive at their church, Saint Andrews Episcopal Church in Spring Garden Township. The idea came about as family and friends asked how they could get tested to see if they are a match, Tom Duffy said.

The process only takes about 15 minutes, said Sarah Brooks Horan, an account executive for the National Marrow Donor Program, also known as "Be The Match." A cotton swab is used to swab the cheek.

These days, donating stem cells can be as simple as giving blood, Horan said.

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Springettsbury toddler needs a bone marrow transplant

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