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Bone marrow donation can save boy’s life

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 27th, 2013

My name is Rodd Joseph and I am a patrol sergeant with the Clearlake Police Department in Lake County. I began my police career with the Watsonville Police Department in 1994 and left in 2002. My wife, Kellie, is a detective with the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.

About six weeks after our son, Ryland, was born we began to notice occasional blood in his stool. He was initially diagnosed with allergic colitis and we ended up switching to lactose and soy-free hypoallergenic formula. We were told his allergies would eventually disappear.

However, Ryland developed a severe diaper rash and the bloody stools continued. The rash persists to this day. During this same time Ryland began having breath-holding spells and we took him to see specialists at the UC San Francisco Medical Center. A neurologist there discovered problems with Ryland’s blood.

In February we were given the unfortunate news that our son has a very rare, life-threatening disease, Wiskott Aldrich Syndrome, or, WAS. The disease is a mutation on the X chromosome and almost always affects boys. About four boys are born with the disease out of every million boys born; there are only about seven patients with the disease statewide. Unfortunately, without treatment, most children with WAS survive five to eight years.

Fortunately there is hope for Ryland and others with WAS: A bone marrow transplant, or BMT — the only current cure for the disease. A BMT is a dangerous and lengthy procedure. A critical first step is finding a matched donor. The better the donor matches the recipient’s type, the greater chance of success. Our BMT team will be accessing the National Bone Marrow Donor Program, “Be the Match,” at www.marrow.org.

Obviously, the larger the pool of possible donors, the greater chance we will find a donor for our little boy. To become a donor is fairly easy. Once you register at Marrow.org, the program will mail a kit of Buccal swabs. Swab the inside of your mouth and send it back in. They will type your sample and retain it in the event your sample matches a patient in need. Your sample type may not match our son Ryland, but it may match someone else who desperately needs it. I just signed up myself and several of our family members are doing the same.

We are asking for people wishing to be a donor to please register with the program. Honestly, I knew very little about the program until recently with our son’s diagnosis. We are praying that a suitable donor will be found and our little boy will be saved.

You can learn more about WAS at the Wiskott Aldrich Foundation website located at www.wiskott.org. Kellie and I can be reached by email at ronojo@yahoo.com or joefish1212@gmail.com. Thank you for reading our story and for your consideration in becoming a bone marrow donor.

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