A six-year-old boy in Auckland is in an urgent need of bone marrow transplantation as his bones cannot produce enough white blood cells.
Born to Afghani parents in Auckland, Yousuf Ahmad Shah is only a few weeks away from turning seven. He needs the bone marrow transplantation before that else, his growth and health will be severely and adversely impacted.
Speaking to the Indian Weekender, Yousuf's father Ahmad Farzad said his elder son has been diagnosed with Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD), an immune deficiency where his bones cannot produce enough White Blood Cells (WBCs) that protect the body against infectious diseases.
"Yousuf is very active, energetic, and he plays a lot, but lack of enough WBCs hinders his body growth and pursuing everyday activities of a six-year-old boy," father Farzad said.
Father Ahmad Farzad with his two children
Currently, Yousuf is on regular medication which has its own side effects and is not sustainable for the boy in the long term. Bone marrow transplantation is the only hope for young Yousuf to lead a normal healthy life.
"Lack of WBCs have made his immunity weaker, he is not growing proportionately in height, weight (under 20 kgs for long), often loses his appetite and it might slowly hamper his vision too," Farzad said.
Yousuf's father moved from Afghanistan in 2013 after getting married and had him in Auckland. His mother is a homemaker, and the couple has another five-year-old boy.
"Bone marrow donation is quite similar to blood donation- but the catch here is that donor should have a genetic match with the recipient.
Yousuf Ahmad Shah (Photo Supplied)
"I am genetically unmatched with Yousuf for this [Bone Marrow Donation], and so is my younger son," Farzad added.
Yousuf was on the worldwide donations list to receive bone marrow and had fortunately found a donor from Spain earlier in 2020.
"The medical services here have the arrangement to get the bone marrow donated and sent to New Zealand to be implanted into Yousuf's body," Farzad said.
The transplantation process got delayed due to Covid-19 global pandemic, and while in the queue to get transplanted in January 2021, the donor in Spain got very sick, which stuck him off the list.
Brochure about swabbing for bone marrow donation by NZ Bone Marrow Donor Registry
"Besides the donor being struck off the list, Yousuf also had a severe leg injury earlier in December 2020 that further pushed the transplantation for a few more weeks and he is fully healed," Farzad said.
Yousuf turns seven in March before which the transplantation needs to be done to avoid any major complications.
Bone marrow transplantation is a medical procedure, in which bone marrow is taken from the donor's bone called 'Bone Marrow Aspiration' and transplanted to the patient's bone.
Brochure about bone marrow donation by NZ Bone Marrow Donor Registry
Bone marrow aspiration is a low-risk procedure that involves inserting a needle to the donor's bone under local anaesthesia.
For this case, bone marrow should come from a genetically matched healthy male aged between 18 and 35 from any ethnic group.
For genetic matching, a wide group of volunteers will be invited to perform a saliva/mouth swab test, and the one with positive matching saliva will be asked for bone marrow donation.
Ahmad Farzad with his two children (Photo Supplied)
NZ Blood's spokesperson clarified certain misconceptions about bone marrow donation, saying it is a simple procedure similar to blood donation and much lower risks.
"A bone marrow collection is similar to a blood collection – it does not involve taking any other body parts.
"To join the registry we would be collecting cells from the inside of the cheek using cotton buds," the spokesperson said.
Yousuf with his younger brother (Photo Supplied)
People who wish to volunteer for donation can contact Ahmad Farzad on 021-125-6653 or email email@example.com.
"We appeal to the community to please come forward and help our little son so that he can lead a healthy life ahead of him," parents of the boy appealed to the community.