One in a million: search for De Soto boy’s lifesaving bone marrow match

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De Soto, Kan.- At this week’s Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic the community of De Soto, Kansas is making a full court press to try to save a little boy’s life.

Grant Garrett, 6, would probably love to be at that tournament. He loves sports, enjoying playing flag football, soccer and golf. He is in Wisconsin at a hospital with his family who are doing what they can for him now and waiting on that phone to ring.

His parents noticed random bruising over the summer. Just a couple weeks after starting kindergarten at Desoto’s Starside Elementary, Grant was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a disorder affecting just 1 in a million people.

“He’s been transfusion dependent since the first week of September, he has needed weekly platelets,” Grant’s father C.J. Garrett explained.

He’ll also require his second red blood cell transfusion next week. Each transfusion is less effective than the last as his body develops antibodies to the treatments.

“Aplastic means the bone marrow is non-productive and you just can’t stay that way. The bone marrow produces cells for a purpose, when they are not doing that or they are underperforming it just makes you susceptible to so many different illnesses,” Garrett said.

The cure is a bone marrow transplant. About 30% of the time that can be found through a family member, but that didn’t work in Grant’s case, and there’s also no perfect matches on the donor registry.

“His principal and teachers at the school all wanted to do something so they reached out to Be the Match,” the organization’s Recruitment Coordinator for Missouri and Kansas said.

All week long at the Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic, fans between the age of 18 and 40 have had the chance to stop by and find out if they are a match. Those swabs will continue during Saturday’s games at De Soto High School all day long. Be the Match hopes they can find a match, if not for Grant, then for somebody else.

“I just feel like if I can help save a life at some point, then why not,” Shemika Henagan said before being swabbed.

“Everybody that’s participating in that thank you to everybody from us, from Grant, but there’s a lot more people out there that the people in that building are going to help too,” Garrett said.

The Garrett family did locate one possible donor in England who came down with COVID, but aren’t giving up hope that donor or another will work out. Meanwhile Be the Match has been invited to the football banquet and to several schools where teachers will be swabbed still searching for that perfect match.

If you can’t make it to De Soto, you can Text Grant Strong to 61474 and have a swab kit sent straight to your home.

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