A Californian family is desperately seeking the help of the Irish-American community in a bid to find a bone marrow donor to save the life of their five-year-old son.
Last February, Jake Larkin was diagnosed with a Severe Aplastic Anemia, a rare and serious condition in which bone marrow fails to produce enough blood cells. An estimated three in one million people are diagnosed with the rare disease in the U.S annually. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant
Due to the family’s Irish ancestry, experts believe Jake has a good chance of finding a suitable donor in the Irish community.
Now his parents, Irish Americans Kimberly Cluff and Bob Larkin, are searching for a bone marrow match for their son.
“They only number is one. We just need one match,” Cluff told the Irish Voice.
Last month, the Larkin family and their two other children Kyle, 19, and Catie, 8, left their San Francisco home to relocate to Milwaukee, where Jake is receiving specialized treatment.
“We just felt like we have to do everything we can, so on 72-hours notice, we packed a few bags,” Cluff said.
The family came to Wisconsin to join the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program at the Children’s Hospital.
The first signs of Jake’s illness began five months ago when Kimberly and Bob noticed their youngest son was suffering from frequent nosebleeds, bruising and chronic fatigue. On February 17, they took Jake to a doctor’s appointment where he was diagnosed with the Severe Aplastic Anemia.
Despite the drastic change in his life, Jake, who turns six on July 17, is responding well to his new regime of doctor's appointments, blood tests and transfusions.
“He knows he is sick,” Cluff said. “He knows his bones are sick.”
Jake’s story has already captured attention all across the U.S. Most recently, his story was featured on Good Morning America.
“When the reporter asked him what his life is like now, he answered, ‘Before I got sick I had a happy life, now I have a serious life.’”
So far, experts have searched every bone marrow bank in the world without finding a match.
On Friday, July 13, a bone marrow drive will take place from 4-8 p.m. at Durty Nelly's, Irving and 24th Avenue in the San Francisco Bay Area.
On Saturday, July 14, a drive will take place from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Grand Army Plaza, intersection of Flatbush Avenue, Eastern Parkway, Prospect Park West in Brooklyn.
There will also be a drive on Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. at the Summit Volunteer First Aid Squad, 50 Elm Street, Summit, New Jersey.
The family is also hoping to set up a bone marrow drive at the annual Milwaukee Irish Festival, which happens next month.