Stories about: Aplastic anemia

Back in the game after stem cell transplant

Behaylu Barry 009Some 100 days after receiving a stem cell transplant to cure his severe aplastic anemia, Behaylu Barry still couldn’t invite friends into his home. He wouldn’t be returning to school until January because his immune system needs the time to get strong enough to fight the pathogens present in indoor spaces. But 13-year-old Behaylu was doing so well that his doctor cleared him to play soccer – outdoors, of course — for the first time since February, when he was diagnosed with the life-threatening blood disorder shortly before he was to join the competitive soccer team that had just selected him.

So Behaylu recently walked on the field with his old traveling team, the Exeter (NH) Hawks, for a two-game pre-season tournament. The Hawks won, 4-1 and 6-1, with Behaylu, playing center midfield, scoring two assists in the first game, three in the second – and a goal in the second game with a head shot from the corner. His mother, Midori Kobayashi, cheered so much and so loudly that she lost her voice.

“Soccer is always pretty awesome,” Behaylu says. “This is the biggest step back to a normal life. One of them was swimming. One was hanging out with friends. Playing soccer is two steps. It’s one giant leap.”

“I know he pushed himself beyond his limits,” says his father, Aidan Barry. “But he’s 13. What do you do? Put him in a cage? It was a magical time for everyone.”

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Adopted from Ethiopia, his African siblings travel to Boston to save his life

By Irene Sege

Barry-familyOne morning in 2006, Aidan Barry showed his wife, Midori Kobayashi, a newspaper story on the plight of the lost boys of Sudan and children affected by the diamond war in Sierra Leone. Little did the Stratham, N.H., couple know that this moment at their breakfast table would lead them to adopt a 6-year-old boy from Ethiopia whose desperately poor parents could not support all their children. Neither could they predict that, seven years later, their adopted son would develop a life-threatening blood disorder connecting his adopted family and birth family for a stem cell transplant to offer him the best chance of cure.

Behaylu Barry has severe aplastic anemia, a bone marrow failure syndrome that prevents his marrow from producing the red blood cells that carry oxygen, the white blood cells that fight infection and the platelets that promote clotting.  He was diagnosed in February after suddenly suffering nosebleeds and extreme fatigue, never making it to the first practice of the competitive soccer team that had just selected him.

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Overcoming Drew’s blood disorder, together

When Jen’s son Drew was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a blood disorder, their entire lives changed. In this blog, Jen describes how she and Drew coped with the disease, treatment and recovery, as well as the care they both received at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. (Click the link to see the center’s new website.)

By Jen D’Auteuil

Jen and her son Drew

When my son Drew was diagnosed with aplastic anemia (AA) at 10 years old, our lives turned upside down. His bone marrow had stopped producing the cells that he needed for iron and oxygen transfers, for blood clotting and fighting off infection, making him very sick very quickly.

All of a sudden my active and social little guy was sidelined—he tired easily and was at constant risk of bleeding or getting sick, so he needed to be kept away from almost everyone he knew. He was started on a chemotherapy regimen called anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG), which doctors hoped would reactivate his bone marrow. In the meantime, Drew and our family went into isolation because he couldn’t be in public places, and we had to ban visitors from our home. Our only real contact with the outside world was by texting. (Something I had never bothered with; but a little time in isolation can change your mind!)

For the next few months we had to sit in this medical exile to see if the AGT did its job. It was a difficult time, but we were very fortunate to have a supportive and generous group of friends, family, church and community members to lean on.

As time went on, I found myself Googling “AA and children” hoping to find another family that could relate to our struggle. Through my search, I met another mom whose child had AA and through her, I met another and then another after that.

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