June 20, 2013 9:30 pm
Updated: September 24, 2013 9:30 pm

Young Edmonton boy searching for rare stem cell donor

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EDMONTON- An Edmonton couple is pleading for help from the public. Joe Rucchin and Jenny Morin’s five-year-old son, Drayson, has a rare blood disorder and requires a stem cell transplant.

“He really needs it to save his life,” Morin said Thursday morning.

Drayson was born without a thumb on his left hand, which eventually led doctors to diagnose him with fanconi anemia. The rare, inherited blood disorder prevents clotting and can lead to severe bleeding.

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“Within the last month he’s had four bleed outs through his nose,” Rucchin explained. “We got him in (the hospital), he started puking up clots of blood, starting turning grey, and he fainted.”

The disorder leads to bone marrow failure and can eventually cause seriously health problems such as leukemia.

“If he doesn’t get the stem cell transplant anytime soon, then the leukemia will set in and then he’ll have to battle that. Plus, he will need the stem cell transplant regardless,” Morin explained.

The challenge is, Drayson has a very slim chance of finding a matching donor. There are currently 340,000 Canadians registered on the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. Of those, less than one per cent are aboriginal.

“He’s most likely to find a match from within his own ethnic group. The challenge with that is, as he is aboriginal descent, we only have a limited amount of potential donors here in Canada that could potentially match him,” Cassandra DeLuca of OneMatch explained. “So the chances of finding a match from such a small pool of individuals is very difficult to do.”

Drayson’s parents have one other option, though- in-vitro fertilization. Through in-vitro, if doctors can select an egg and sperm that are free of genetic defects, they could create a donor for Drayson.

“It’s different if it’s 99 per cent chance,” Rucchin said. “But when you’re at one per cent, you’ve got to look at all the avenues.”

Even with the one per cent chance Rucchin and Morin aren’t giving up hope. OneMatch held a swab drive at the River Cree Resort on Thursday. They hope the community will step up and become donors.

“This gives him, and could afford him, the opportunity of a full and happy life, completely free of his initial disease,” DeLuca said.

“I’m very hopeful,” Rucchin said. “This is an angel. I don’t know why cancer’s trying to pick a fight with him. He’s just an angel, I have lots of hope for him… He means absolutely everything to us.”

To sign up to become a donor, or for more information, visit OneMatch’s website.

With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News. 

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