NASHUA — A Goffstown family facing an uphill medical battle is hoping for a Christmas miracle this weekend in Nashua.
While many young children are looking forward to the holiday season, 2-year-old Aybel Martin is preparing for another round of chemotherapy and praying he might be able to spend Christmas Day at home rather than in the hospital.
“My only wish this Christmas is for my son to get better. I couldn’t ask for anything more,” said Jaimie Harris, Aybel’s mother. “Our hope is to find him a bone marrow match on Saturday.”
Aybel, who was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia in April, is relying on a bone marrow match and transplant to survive, according to Harris.
Following Aybel’s diagnosis this past spring, traditional chemotherapy was administered and several tumors in his head and bones disappeared. But the celebration was short-lived, as the toddler’s symptoms came back in October. The family found out last month that several cancerous tumors have returned.
“He is at the hospital right now, as he was not feeling well over the weekend. It turns out he has another tumor in his head, and it is growing very rapidly,” Harris said on Tuesday. “He needs this bone marrow transplant sooner rather than later.”
St. Joseph Hospital and Delete Blood Cancer, one of the world largest bone marrow donor centers, are hosting the drive to find a match for Aybel. The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the hospital’s Cancer Center, 172 Kinsley St. The donor process involves swabbing the inside of the cheeks.
Each day, thousands of patients search for a bone marrow donor match, but only four out of 10 patients typically receive a transplant, according to a release from St. Joseph Hospital.
Katharina Harf, co-founder of Delete Blood Cancer, is trying to educate the public about the importance of bone marrow donors.
“I lost my mother to leukemia when I was 14, and I have made it my mission to recruit more donors so that families don’t have to go through the pain we did,” Harf said in a statement. “We need your help so we can save more lives.”
Harris is optimistic that a donor will be found soon for her son and hopes that the Greater Nashua community will be generous enough to attend the drive and get swabbed to see if they are a match for Aybel.
“Even if we can’t find a match for him, maybe we can find a match for someone else who is sick, and provide them with a much-needed Christmas miracle,” said Harris, who also has an older son, Wyatt, 7.
Aybel is being treated at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, where he continues to smile despite his illness, said Harris. She describes her son as a loving child who enjoys laughing, Mickey Mouse, Disney’s Cars and playing with his brother.
If he is healthy enough to leave the hospital, Harris said Aybel’s doctors may allow him to go home for Christmas Day. Radiation, she said, will be just around the corner for her son.
“My appreciation goes out to everyone who is working to find Aybel a donor, and for everyone who shows up on Saturday to get swabbed — especially the complete strangers who are supporting us right now,” she said.