When a child is sick or in pain, a parent will do whatever it takes to help their child get better. Unfortunately, parents sometimes are powerless to ease their child’s suffering.
For a couple from California, the only thing worse than having a sick son was not being able to do anything to help him. Their desperate search for help began when their son’s condition turned out to be worse than they thought…
A Red Flag
When Kyle Crawford was just four years old, his parents, David Crawford and Angela Kwan, started noticing an unusual amount of bruises on their son. At first, they thought it was just from playing outside. However, when the excessive bruising didn’t stop, they started to get worried.
Time To See A Doctor
At one point, the couple from San Mateo, California, brought their 4-year-old in to see a doctor. They were worried that the bruising was a sign that Kyle was sick or something serious was wrong. Yet the doctor brushed off their concerns and assured them nothing was wrong.
Nothing To Worry About
According to Crawford and Kwan, the doctor told them they had nothing to worry about. Bruising was common and to be expected for an active young boy like Kyle. At first, the explanation made sense and their worries faded away. But the assurance didn’t last long.
A Bad Ending To A Dream Vacation
Not long after, the family took a trip to Disneyland. Everything was going great until the last day of the dream vacation. Crawford and Kwan noticed that Kyle’s lips started bleeding. Because it was the last day of the trip, the couple decided they would wait until they were home to bring him to the doctor.
A Bad Sign
Shortly after arriving at home, however, Kyle started vomiting blood. Crawford and Kwan knew that wasn’t normal and that their instincts had been right all along. Something was very wrong with their 4-year-old. Rather than wasting any more time, the couple brought Kyle straight to the hospital.
Getting Some Answers
Once at the emergency room, the terrified parents described all of Kyle’s symptoms to the nurses and doctors. The team performed several tests, and soon after they had a diagnosis. According to Crawford and Kwan, they were told that their son was suffering from a rare and dangerous condition.
Kyle was diagnosed with a severe form of aplastic anemia, a rare blood disease where the body stops creating red blood cells. If it was left untreated, it meant that a simple infection that most kids’ immune systems would be able to fight off could actually kill Kyle.
The Bad News
Kyle’s parents were glad they discovered Kyle was sick before it had gotten to that point. However, doctors then broke the bad news to them. The only way Kyle could get better from severe aplastic anemia was if he underwent a bone marrow transplant.
An Added Challenge
Normally, finding a matching bone marrow donor is an extremely difficult and lengthy process. According to the doctors, Kyle’s case was even more challenging because he was half Caucasian and half Chinese. Doctors hoped they would find a donor within their family, but sadly, no one came back as a match.
Buying More TIme
To buy Kyle more time, doctors put Kyle on cyclosporine, a drug that suppresses the immune cells’ activity that damage his bone marrow. Unfortunately, however, this was only a temporary fix. The drug can cause permanent organ damage if used for too long.
Running Out Of TIme
By the summer of 2014, doctors explained they had to take Kyle off the drug. It was too risky for him to continue taking them as the drug would soon start damaging his vital organs. Now, the pressure was really on to find a matching bone marrow donor.
The Search Continues
Kyle’s parents desperately held donor registration events in the hopes that someone they recruited to help would be a donor. They also reached out to Be The Match, the world’s largest bone marrow donor registry, which is located in Minneapolis and has been connecting donors with patients needing bone marrow transplants for 25 years.
After speaking to Be The Match, however, the family was struck by how hard it would be to find a donor for Kyle. According to the registry, only four percent of donors are mixed race. After searching through their registry, however, Be The Match miraculously found a match for Kyle.
In August 2014, Be The Match contacted Lieutenant Kawika Segundo. Segundo, an Iraq War veteran and father of two, is Caucasian, Chinese, and Hawaiian. At that time, he had been working as the department head for the administration department for Naval Health Clinic Annapolis.
A Good Deed
In 2009, however, he had joined the C.CW. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Program while he was undergoing radiation health tech training. When he received a call that August day in 2014, he had almost completely forgotten about his good deed several years before.
An Unusual Phone Call
“When I got the call, I thought it must be a telemarketer, so I was considering to not pick it up,” Segundo told Maui News. “I picked it up defensively and they immediately told me, ‘Hey we got this kid and you’re found to be a probable match. Is that something you’d be interested in?”
Committing To Help
Segundo was interested in helping out the 7-year-old across the country but had to get approval from both his wife and from his chain of command since harvesting bone marrow is considered an elective surgery. With their approval, he committed to helping save Kyle’s life. “If it wasn’t for the military, I wouldn’t have been in that drive, so I don’t know what the chances would have been for Kyle to find a match,” Segundo said.
On September 23, 2014, Segundo underwent surgery to extract bone marrow from his hip at the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Meanwhile, Kyle was waiting desperately for the bone marrow after undergoing intense chemotherapy and radiation to wipe out his immune system so his body wouldn’t reject the donation.
A Year Later
Thankfully, the transplant was a success and Kyle has since been able to return to the school and is even back to playing sports. A year after the transplant, Kyle was finally able to meet the war hero who had become his personal hero. “I’ve done a lot of cool stuff in the military, but nothing really compares to this,” Segundo said. “This is really life-changing being able to save somebody’s life.” During their first meeting, Segundo even gave Kyle the Purple Heart he received for his service in Iraq. “There are many heroes in this world,” he told Kyle.
Bonded For Life
Now, the two families are bonded for life and take family vacations together to Hawaii, where Segundo grew up and where Kyle’s parents went on their honeymoon. “I told him he is now part of our ohana,” Kwan told Maui News. “How do you thank somebody who saved your son’s life? As a mother, you just can’t thank somebody enough,” she added about her family’s hero. “I don’t even know what to do, he’s just such an awesome guy. It’s literally like we won the lottery. It was that slim.”