PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A Chandler family is in Seattle for a life-saving bone marrow transplant needed for their young son going through cancer.
It’s his fourth time battling leukemia in seven years. But the coronavirus pandemic has created major complications for his procedure and worries about what he could contract. The Seattle area and the state of Washington have seen the most deaths in the U.S. from the virus. Forty-eight people there have died, including six more over the weekend.
This is the latest confirmed information about the coronavirus in Arizona. This page will be continuously updated by the Arizona's Family digital staff.
The Hantlas are a family of five, and it’s their 8-year-old son David who needs the bone marrow transplant to survive. But the only two possible donors for him are overseas, which complicates everything with COVID-19. David still finds a way to smile through the pain.
“Sometimes it makes parts of my body hurt,” he said.
A couple of weeks ago, his family packed up to head to Seattle Children's Hospital because of how experienced they are with these procedures.
“This is a life-saving treatment for David. Without bone marrow transplant, his chances of survival would be very low,” said his dad Jacob Hantla.
But as soon as they got there, the pandemic exploded, and Seattle saw hundreds of coronavirus cases grow day by day.
“The hospital is on lockdown,” Jacob said.
David needs a perfect match for a successful procedure, and his little brother Andrew is a perfect match. But there was a problem.
“Even though Andrew is a perfect match, the oncologists are hesitant to use his blood and bone marrow because what if he has the same cancer predisposition that I have and David has?” said Jacob.
Jacob went through his own battle with aggressive cancer himself last year, so they're afraid any family blood could be harmful. That leaves them with hardly any options.
“In the whole world there are only two matches for David that are registered,” Jacob said.
And those two people are in Great Britain and the Netherlands, where travel to and from is restricted right now.
So, Jacob said they have to get the bone marrow in Seattle, then freeze it for 14 days before David can receive it, to make sure it's not contaminated with the virus in any way. The delay means the procedure likely won't happen until early April and means a six-month stay in Seattle for the Hantlas while David recovers, which they're hopeful he can and will survive. But despite the toll it's taken on their family, they’re just thankful for each minute and day they get as a family of five.
There's quite a bit of confusion surrounding the most recent strain of the coronavirus. Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions.
“We’re just grateful to God for every day, and living day by day,” Jacob said.
The Hantlas want to encourage people to sign up to become marrow donors because it's so needed. They also hope people will still donate blood during this COVID-19 crisis because that's something David will need to live.