Seven-year-old Ikkei Takeuchi’s nose bled a lot when his family lived in Japan. He had frequent fevers and felt tired. Tests of his blood revealed it was lacking in platelets, white blood cells and red blood cells — signs that his bone marrow, the body’s blood producing factory, was failing.
After moving to the U.S., his pediatrician referred him to Stanford’s Bass Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Diseases. Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford’s Healthier, Happy Lives Blog picks up the tale:
Despite running every test in the book, Ikkei’s doctors couldn’t figure out exactly why this was happening, making Ikkei one of a rare group of kids with unexplained bone marrow failure. One thing was clear, however: Ikkei’s bone marrow wasn’t repairing itself. Instead it was starting to show signs of increased stress.
‘We gave Ikkei occasional blood transfusions to keep his energy levels up, but he was going through what we call ‘the dwindles,’ when his blood counts continue to get worse. We knew it was time for a bone marrow transplant,’ [Bertil] Glader, MD, PhD, explained.
Finding the right donor can be tricky. It’s important to match a type of protein marker called a human leukocyte antigen that is found on many cells to prevent a rejection by the immune system. Fortunately, however, Ikkei’s little brother Senshu was a perfect match.
“Since Senshu is four years old, he didn’t understand everything that was going on. But we told him, ‘You can help your older brother,’ and he understood that,” his mom, Natsuko, said. “He never said he didn’t want to go to the hospital, and he never cried, either.”
Now, Ikkei and Senshu are both doing well and Ikkei is getting back to playing basketball and football.
“He had a lot of restrictions before the treatment,” Natsuko explained. “Whenever he had a fever, he wasn’t able to do anything and had to save energy. In the future, I’d like him to do things he likes. He can act like a healthy, normal child.”
Photo of Agnieszka Czechowicz, MD, PhD, Ikkei and Senshu by Cris Gebhardt