“Since Senshu is 4 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,” Natsuko, the boys’ mother, said. “He never said he didn’t want to go to the hospital, and he never cried, either.”
Even with a perfect donor match, a bone marrow transplant is a serious procedure. Shojiro said the hospital staff worked to help ease the family’s fears.
“When we were told Ikkei needed to have a bone marrow transplant, we felt we would face a very, very, very hard time. We could not imagine how difficult it would be,” Shojiro recalled. “However, the doctors explained everything to us so we could make the right decision. And everyone at the hospital was so supportive and gave us energy. They helped us get rid of our anxiety around unfamiliar medical terminology and made boring hospital days happy for Ikkei.”
Ikkei’s bone marrow transplant — overseen by Sandeep Soni, MD, clinical associate professor of pediatrics, and aided by Agnieszka Czechowicz, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics, and the stem cell transplant team — went smoothly.
“His blood counts are back to normal, and he’s continuing to recover and build out a healthy immune system,” Czechowicz said.
Energy and ice cream
Ikkei was able to return home a few weeks after his transplant. His parents say he already has more energy and is eating all of his favorite foods, including ice cream.
“He was very excited to be home. He was playing with his younger brother, running around and sweating,” Natsuko said. “We were worried he would have a fever again, but he didn’t. He just acted like a normal kid.”
Ikkei is excited to spend more time playing basketball and football. He’s a huge fan of the Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco 49ers.
For his parents, the transplant represents a new chapter in Ikkei’s life.
“He had a lot of restrictions before the treatment,” Natsuko said. “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.”
Between the move and the transplant, it has been a whirlwind few years for the family. They are looking forward to calmer times ahead.
“We moved from Japan, and Ikkei received treatment in the United States, so he thinks he was saved by the United States,” Shojiro said. “He really likes this country. We believe Ikkei is healthy now thanks to all the support we got from the hospital, and we’re so thankful to the staff.”