Iván, with his parents, in a picture from the family album. SUR
Family pleas for a donor for Ivan and all those in need of a bone marrow transplant
Health appeal

Family pleas for a donor for Ivan and all those in need of a bone marrow transplant

Parents Álvaro and Maribel, originally from Torremolinos but who now live in Malaga's Guadlhorce valley, are using social media to encourage people to donate, not only for their son who suffers from leukaemia, but anyone else who needs stem cells

José Rodríguez Cámara


Monday, 8 July 2024, 16:07

Opciones para compartir

Álvaro Ruiz and Maribel Jiménez had two options: to sink or swim. They opted for the second option - to overcome it - and have become tremendous advocates of bone marrow donation.

Iván, aged 9, suffers from type B lymphoblastic leukaemia. For two years and four months, he has been undergoing treatment at the Hospital Materno-Infantil de Málaga, and everything was going well until just a week ago. "It seemed that they had killed the bug with the chemo," his father said.

But no, the doctors discovered that he had suffered a relapse, and it was back to square one. "You're at the limit, completely; you're in such a mess that I think you automatically move on," said Álvaro, who has become the spokesperson for this family from Torremolinos, who live in neighbouring Alhaurín de la Torre.

Combat lack of knowledge

With this in mind, the family created a video to combat a lack of knowledge in bone marrow donation. What they want to achieve with a post on their social media is to get more people to contribute to the "world bank" where stem cells can be found. "The greater the number of donors, the greater the possibilities for my son and for anyone else who needs it," said Iván's father who, together with the boy's mother, is teaching people about the procedure: "It's very easy. You only have to go to a blood bank to take a sample and, with that, you are already registered." "If you are truly compatible with someone, then the miracle happens."

Although it may seem that having access to people from all over the world, through the Spanish Network of Bone Marrow Donors (Redmo) or the various centres of this type in Spain, which are connected to hospitals on five continents, make it seem so simple, but "it is not", Álvaro added. "Depending on the country of origin of some patients, it is more complicated, due to the lesser culture of this type of practice or the health resources. Here in the hospital we see very extreme cases," he said.

80% compatibility

"The minimum need is that there is an 80% compatibility and, despite this, there may be rejection later, so it is crucial that there are different possibilities," Ivan's father said. The procedure, however, works 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and once the patient's details are entered, it connects with all existing records. In Iván's case, if a positive result is found, the first thing to do is to proceed with a preparatory treatment and then, by means of immunosuppression, enter the phase of induction of the marrow that has been proven to have a chance of success.

Until that moment arrives, both Álvaro and Maribel are trying to deal with the situation in a "positive" way, to help Iván cope in the best possible way. "We have to be united, this is very hard for a son, above all, but also for his parents. My mother died because of cancer, it hurt me, but it is the law of life, but with a child you are not prepared and you have no choice but to go forward for him," Álvaro said.

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