FORT WORTH, Texas - The Fort Worth Police Department and ‘Hallie's Heroes’ have been working together for years to help find bone marrow donors.
They released a new video on Wednesday, encouraging people to get swabbed and join the bone marrow registry.
Hallie Barnard has a rare blood condition and is still looking for her own match. The Fort Worth Police Department regularly encourages its new recruits to get tested. And recently, one of them matched with a child in need in Italy.
Recruit Ty Veltre says he already had his DNA on a Department of Defense database years ago. But it wasn't until he did a cheek swab in the police academy this past September that it was discovered he was a bone marrow match, something he considered an honor.
"As soon as I got the call, I was one hundred percent in,” the Fort Worth police recruit said.
But it wasn't the call the 26-year-old expected. Veltre was hoping to be a match for Hallie Barnard, the 8-year-old Denton girl with a rare blood disease that affects her bone marrow.
"They said, ‘We believe you are a potential match for a 9-year-old with a rare form of leukemia. He is located in Italy,’" he recalled.
But Veltre didn't have to travel to Italy. The DOD organization 'Salute to Life' flew him to a hospital in Washington D.C. for the operation to donate his bone marrow.
“Being able to help somebody on that level, not a lot of people get a chance to,” he said. “So I was really excited to be able to do that."
Before Veltre committed to four days away from the academy, he had to clear that with Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald. That was the easy part.
"That so much equals what a police officer does on a day to day basis — doing things and potentially sacrificing for folks you don't know,” the chief said.
Veltre says it was painful but was something any other officer could handle.
"If you worked out for a week straight with improper form, it was really a muscle and hip area you can't move a lot,” he said.
European laws prevent him from knowing anything about the 9-year-old boy who will receive his marrow donation. But Veltre has faith he's making a difference.
"I would just be happy to see if he was walking and moving and continuing what a 9-year-old should be able to continue with,” he said.
Those same laws do allow for the boy's family to call Veltre if they choose to. The recruit hopes that they do that someday.