Local family on a mission to save son

February 21, 2010

Courtesy by: wggb.com

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – When you meet Essa Khairi you can’t tell that beneath his playful spirit and infectious laugh, the 11-month-old suffers from a rare genetic disorder with potentially life-threatening complications. He was recently diagnosed with thalassemia major. His body produces dangerously low levels of hemoglobin, depriving his tissues of crucial oxygen.

To maintain his health, Essa is dependent on monthly blood transfusions. While effective, the high levels of iron he receives have potentially dangerous consequences for his heart and liver. The only cure for his condition is a bone marrow or cord blood transplant. Essa’s parents were discouraged to learn that there are very few people of Southeast Asian descent in the National Bone Marrow Registry. It is unlikely they will find a bone marrow donor so the Khairis have decided to proceed with a cord blood transplant.

Dr. Talal Khairi contacted a doctor at Duke University specializing in cord blood transplants. He was advised that while there are potential unrelated donors, Essa’s best chance of a match is a sibling. Essa’s parents are now preparing to have a third child in hopes that the umbilical cord blood will be a match for Essa. If not, they will proceed with looking for an unrelated cord blood donor.

While the Khairis are no longer actively looking for a bone marrow donor for their son, they are still hoping to organize a local bone marrow registry drive. They are calling on people of Southeast Asian descent to come forward and register, so that if someone is in need of a transplant there is a potential match waiting.

Dr. Khairi’s colleagues at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield are helping him organize the drive. Stay tuned for more information.


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