PERFECT MATCH: Brother’s Donation Helps Sister

A sixth grader’s life changed in February when she got a difficult diagnosis. Now, she’s relying on her younger brother to help her recover.

Megan Ford spends her Friday mornings at the Blank Children’s Blood Infusion Center. She says, “I’m getting IV fluids. In a little bit I’m getting chemo.”

The middle school student started going there in February after she just wasn’t feeling like herself. She says, “I hadn’t been feeling really well. I had this rash on my arm, and so we went into the doctor. They had blood work because they thought I had mono.”

Mom Linda Ford says, “Everything just kind of led to you to take your kid in for a mono test and you wind up on the oncology floor.”

Megan says, “They did some blood work and found out that I had T-cell ALL, which is leukemia.”

The family soon learned she has a rare subclass of T-cell ALL, making it harder to treat and more likely to come back. Dr. Carla Schwalm, Pediatric Hematology Oncologist at Blank Children’s Hospital, says, “So, to try to prevent that from happening, you do a bone marrow transplant in the beginning, instead of waiting for it to come back and then doing it.”

The family will go to University of Minnesota Medical Center for a bone marrow transplant next month. It will involve Megan and her younger brother Noah.

Noah says, “I’m sort of nervous and sort of anxious for it.”

Siblings are typically the best bet for bone marrow transplants. So, doctors tested the 9-year-old and found he was a perfect match. He says, “They’re going to put me asleep. Then, they’re going to take the bone marrow out of my waist. Then, I’m going to wake up and my waist is going to be a little sore.”

The bone marrow will then be processed, put in a bag and given to Megan through an IV like a blood transfusion. Megan says, “He won’t let me forget it. He’s already holding it over my head.”

Noah jokes, “She asked me to do something, and I’m like, I’m giving you bone marrow, so, I’m like, I don’t need to do anything for you.”

The goal is for Megan to get rid of the cancer for good and get back to their typical relationship. She says, “He annoys me, I annoy him. It works.”

The family is planning the bone marrow transplant for mid to late June. It will take place at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis, where doctors perform several hundred bone marrow transplants a year. Noah will go home soon after the surgery, but Megan will have to stay there for about three months.

Family and friends are raising money to help with uninsured medical expenses. Click here for more information on how to help.

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