Wednesday, July 1, 2015, our 2 year old grandson Liam and his family were featured on the local news by the St. Louis NBC affiliate. The video segment titled “St. Louis family meets life-saving bone marrow donor” is now online at:
http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/local/outreach/2015/06/30/bone-marrow-transplant-donor-reunion/29537057/ and it is wonderful.
It told the basic story about how our 2 year old grandson Liam Bryant, who like his deceased older brother Noah, had a bone marrow transplant for a rare autoimmune disease called HLH and is doing well thanks to the generosity of a stranger named Kevin who donated his bone marrow. There were many tears of joy when Liam and the family were able to meet Kevin in person.
But there is much more to the story.
There are two types of stem cell procedures. Ethically controversial embryonic stem cell (ESC) procedures and non-controversial adult stem cell procedures. ESC procedures are controversial because the cells used are derived from human embryos – babies at a very early stage of development – who are killed in the process. ESC procedures, so far, have not proved to be the breakthrough they were expected to be.
Liam’s transplant came from adult stem cells. Adult stems cells are now proving very useful in the treatment of many diseases thanks to ongoing research, but bone marrow transplants using adult stem cells have been successful for decades.
Liam’s Parents Also Chose Life
The autoimmune disease HLH is notoriously difficult to diagnose and there is only a short window of opportunity to successfully treat the disease with a bone marrow transplant. Liam’s 6 year old brother Noah’s HLH was not diagnosed early and although he fought hard for many months, complications of his bone marrow transplant took his life in October 2012.
While we were all standing vigil for Noah two days before he finally died, Noah’s parents received the difficult news that a special prenatal test showed that Liam, Noah’s unborn brother, also had HLH. The abortion option was brought up. This happened even though little Liam himself would have an excellent chance for a bone marrow transplant cure, especially since his bone marrow transplant could be planned before he showed any sign of the disease.
I was so proud of my stepdaughter when she instantly replied to the abortion “option” with outrage. She told the doctor that it was unthinkable that she would be offered the “choice” of killing one of her children while watching another one of her children die!
The “helpful” doctor who suggested abortion probably thought that she was only being sympathetic, but, like too many people in our society, she saw abortion as an acceptable solution to a tough situation. My stepdaughter enlightened the doctor not only about the truth of abortion as killing but also about the effects on the family. So-called “therapeutic” abortion is never therapeutic for either the child or the family. How can killing a child ever prevent grief and guilt? How can anyone rationalize the very real difference between dying and being killed?
BONE MARROW AND ORGAN DONATION
As I have previously written (see my previous blogs on Non-brain Death Organ donation, Parts one and two), many people are understandably concerned about signing an organ donation card because of the controversies surrounding brain death organ donation and DCD (donation after circulatory death).
However, there are alternatives such as the donation of bone marrow, blood or even a kidney or part of a liver while still alive and healthy. In addition, after death, tissues like bone or corneas can be taken even hours after death is certain.
HOW TO BECOME A BONE MARROW DONOR FOR SOMEONE LIKE OUR GRANDSON
If you or someone you know is between the ages of 18 and 44 and wants to consider being tested for bone marrow donation, you can get more information and join the bone marrow registry at Be The Match at https://bethematch.org/Support-the-Cause/Donate-bone-marrow/Join-the-marrow-registry/
Bone marrow donation can be done by a technique that collects peripheral blood stem cells (PBSC) from the donor’s blood as well as by having bone marrow taken from the hip as Liam’s donor did. An explanation of both donation methods can be found at >https://bethematch.org/transplant-basics/how-marrow-donation-works/steps-of-bone-marrow-or-pbsc-donation/
We will continue to be eternally grateful to Liam’s donor for a true gift of life.
Addendum from the Pro-Life Healthcare Alliance Newsletter July 23, 2015 :
There is a third designation of stem cells that is little known but is gaining momentum: the fetal stem cell. Human beings are called embryos for the first eight weeks after fertilization. After that, we enter the fetal stage, which is from nine weeks post-fertilization until birth. Fetal stem cells are stem cells harvested during the fetal stage of development. Fetal stem cells, often procured from elective abortions, are disingenuously classified as “adult” stem cells simply because they do not come from embryos. Needless to say, this creates great confusion. Be wary. See: https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/stem-cell-stealth-mode-when-terminology-masks-immorality/