Volume 21, Number 50 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | April 24 - 30, 2009
B.P.C. boy hopes for bone marrow donor
By Candida L. Figueroa
With less than three weeks to his 5th birthday, Kai Anderson is fighting for his life and in search of a bone marrow donor. In early April, he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. Dedicating a drive in his honor, his parents hope he will beat the odds and find his genetic match.
Kai’s friends often stop by his hospital room with drawings and coloring books in hopes of lifting his spirits. When he has enough energy, he enjoys playing games and reading stories in the company of his parents, Birgit and David Anderson, who live in Battery Park City.
Kai’s mother describes the young boy as an active, jovial kid who until recently had a lot of energy. He had been attending Montessori School of Manhattan in the Financial District before he went into the hospital a few weeks ago. About three to four weeks before he was diagnosed, Birgit Anderson started to notice a decrease in energy and an increase fatigue in her son. Often too tired to walk, play or go to school, she assumed it was a seasonal flu.
“This child was never sick and always completely healthy,” his mother said. “You never think when your child is sick, that it might be the worst possible disease, let alone a very rare form of cancer.” As the month went on, Kai suffered from the symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia including swollen lymph glands and severe night sweats. After Kai failed to respond to routine antibiotics at a hospital visit he was diagnosed with A.L.L. His father was diagnosed last year with an incurable form of cancer, mantle cell lymphoma.
Statistically, three out of 10 children get a transplant. Anderson said she believes that the national donor registration is low because people fear donors require invasive surgery. Stem cells are taken from the blood or tissue is extracted from the bone of a donor. The tests are done with saliva samples.
Aiding the family in their search is DKMS, the world’s largest marrow donor center, which also participated in the search for 5-year-old Jasmina Anema’s donor, a Soho girl profiled in a Downtown Express article in February (she’s still looking for a donor). Despite Kai’s daily regiment of seven chemotherapy drugs, his form of A.L.L has been unresponsive to chemotherapy.
“It is curable but now it’s just a question of finding someone who is a match and the more people who register, the higher the chance,” Birgit Anderson said. “The drive is in honor of Kai, but really they are participating in the national registry and may help another sick child.”
There will be a bone marrow drive for Kai on Sat., May 2 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Montessori School’s Tribeca location, 53 Beach St. For more information, visit www.hopeforkai.com.