A Prosper 6-year-old is in desperate need of a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
Ayden Palmer battled back from brain surgery in December, and now his family is hoping he'll beat the odds once again.
Valentine’s Day is National Donor Day, but Ayden's parents say why wait.
Their son's story highlights the desperate need for bone marrow donors, especially among the African American community.
Ayden can easily match up his Rubik’s Cube. If only finding a perfect bone marrow match was as easy.
He spends several hours every few weeks getting blood transfusions at Children's Health Dallas to help him battle sickle cell disease -- an inherited blood disorder that can damage a patient’s vital organs and cause chronic pain.
“It's daunting. It's a waiting game,” Tut Palmer, Ayden’s mother, said. “I always tell my husband, it's impossible finding a match right now.”
Looking at Ayden, it's hard to believe this high-energy, bright-eyed boy had brain surgery in December to improve blood flow. He also had a stroke at 3 years old that paralyzed the left side of his body.
“He's known nothing but pain, and he's immune to pain. That's what I see,” his mother said.
Doctors say sickle cell is most common among African Americans. Yet, the likelihood of finding a bone marrow match is only 23 percent, compared to 77 percent among Caucasians, because there are far fewer African Americans on the registry.
“It doesn't take much to get on the registry,” said Dr. Tiffany Simms-Waldrip. “It's really just a cheek swab.”
Dr. Simms-Waldrip says getting on the registry is easy, what's challenging is for patients like Ayden is finding the perfect match.
“We don't want to take a patient with sickle cell that has complications, and then give them more complications because of the transplant. So it's a very tricky balance of trying to do the right thing for the patient,” Dr. Simms-Waldrip said.
“As we wait, there's a lot of risk that could potentially happen. And that's the scariest part for us,” Ayden's mother added.
Officials at Children's Health say they’ve found that people are more likely to get on the registry when they can do the simple cheek swab at home, as opposed to at a drive.
You can text the word "Childrens" to 61474, and bethematch.org will send you a cheek swab kit by mail.