Boy, 9, with leukemia finds bone marrow match
OTTUMWA, Iowa —
540 registered donors were needed to find a match and exactly 540 registered donors are what one Oskaloosa boy received.
"And then to know that we had multiple matches come through,” said the boy’s Aunt, Heather Jones. “That's the light at the end of the tunnel, that's what this was all for."
In February, 9-year-old Caleb Hammond was diagnosed with leukemia.
A bone marrow transplant is another step towards survival.
But in order to do that, Caleb needed to find a rare match.
Caleb beat the odds. He didn't just find one, he found several.
Experts say 1 in 540 is a match.
Ironically, that's the most recent number in Caleb's marrow registry.
107 people registered at a community drive last month and 433 registered online.
"It's pretty amazing. I wouldn't have thought the community would've been this much help in this situation."
The community may have delivered, but Caleb is still fighting.
Before he can go through with the procedure, Caleb needs to be free of cancerous cells.
He's still building up his strength as we speak.
"He's getting so much stronger,” Jones said. “His personality is coming back, he's a little ornery."
"Just a little bit ago, he was working with therapists and they actually took 52 steps," said Caleb’s father, John Hammond Jr.
Caleb won't know who his match is until after the procedure.
Doctors aren't exactly sure how soon that will happen.
When it's time, Caleb and his family will travel to Minnesota to complete the transplant.
"We didn't expect to go on the road we have but we've been that small percent that does go down the path," Hammond said.
The family is raising funds in Ottumwa this Saturday to put towards travel expenses.
It's a Blue Knights motorcycle ride at the VFW that starts with a pancake breakfast at 7 a.m.
Proceeds will also support area veterans.