Our story began in September 2011 when, tired of seeing how our child Alvaro, who was then 10 months old, kept getting sick (small stuff) and had a very bloated abdomen, we decided to take him to the doctor. He told us that, although he didn't see anything out of the ordinary, his physical appearance (swollen belly and very thin limbs) made him suspect that something was up. Therefore, in October, we started running some tests and, 4 months later, the doctors concluded that Alvaro had Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukaemia. This was on October 3rd, a big blow, for we were considering other possibilities. The thing is that my wife, who is a nurse, predicted this diagnosis since November, and we had told her that she was wrong.
My other son, Ruben, wasn't compatible, so we could do nothing but wait until a compatible bone marrow donor appeared. After waiting in silence and trying to embrace the situation, we saw ourselves invaded by friends who had heard the news and wanted to hear it from us. One day, they convinced me that we were not alone, that there were a lot of people waiting for a sign to do something and I decided to test if it was true through my Facebook account, where I only had 10 friends and I didn't want to add anyone else. Nonetheless, it was incredible, in just a couple of hours I got messages from Mallorca, Valencia, Madrid... People asking me what they could do to help and so we started to organize ourselves and we began an active awareness campaign. One of the teachers in my other son's school, who is councillor of Aljaraque, started to mobilize people in an unbelievable way; in a matter of days she had the whole town hanging posters and she had put us in contact with several radios and TVs, although we decided to wait for that. In the other hand, it is incredible how people put themselves in your place and begin to do things on their own; they send emails to their friends, family and co-workers, they hang posters in the least expected places... The idea was easy, this is not only for Alvaro, and there are a lot of people waiting.
The workers of the hospital told us that in 20 years of service, they had never seen such a favourable reception, that we must be very loved. Nonetheless, the truth is that there are a lot of people who want to help and we aren't aware of it, that a lot of people don't know the difference between bone marrow and the spinal cord and think that a transplant is that they open you up and take a solid piece from your body to give it to someone else, and that once these people understand what the process is really about, they are more than happy to become donors.
Regarding Alvaro everything is fine, he is stable and as a matter of precaution, we have taken him out of the nursery and we keep a very hygienic environment. Alvaro is a happy and active kid; he tends to hit his brother a lot, but later makes it better by hugging him as much as he can. Now he is into construction and he has all of the family playing with him, making castles and towers which he enjoys destroying. He loves to eat, and that scares us because we no longer know what part of his belly is due to his illness and what part is due to everything he eats. We have to give him the same quantity of food that we give his brother because, if not, he eats his, steals his brother's and everything he sees. He spends the day laughing; we don't know what he looks like when he is angry, because he loves to joke around. Sometimes he gets something in his hand and hides it behind his back and asks us where it's gone. He is so into the role that he even puts a worried face.
Regarding his illness, because if not I would go on and on telling you things about him, as every dad would, we are scared, scared that we see him SO WELL, I'd say better than ever (a good colour skin, red cheeks, a lot of vitality...) that, sometimes, we think that he doesn't need a transplant, that he could go on until the end of time, but of course, the reality is quite different. Regarding looking things up on the Internet, it is the worst thing that you can do, generally, the people who tell stuff through the Internet is because they haven't had a good experience, a happy client tells 3 people while an unhappy one tells the world. For this reason, I decided I wasn't going to investigate a lot, and take it as good as I could, think about what is really going to happen: that my wife will spend some days locked up with Alvaro while his brother and I will be at home waiting. And when they come back, we will have to be very careful at the beginning and keep strict hygiene controls, but little by little, Alvaro will be what he has to be: a happy kid.
Therefore, DON'T GIVE UP, for yourselves and for all of those who support you.
Oscar (Alvaro's dad)
If you want more information about the donation of bone marrow to help people like Alvaro (and many other patients) to have the opportunity of a cure, click HERE. Remember that the donation of bone marrow is altruistic, anonymous, and universal. If you register as a bone marrow donor, you could be making a donation to a person from anywhere in the world. If you want more information, write to [email protected] or call us on our free phone number (in Spain) 900 32 33 34.
You could also become a member of the José Carreras Foundation. With a little amount you could help us to continue our research.