BOSTON (CBS) – Behaylu Barry is on the mend at home in Stratham, New Hampshire, after 34 days at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Behaylu, 13, received a bone marrow transplant in an effort to rebuild his immune system, compromised by a rare blood disorder.
“I didn’t feel like I had anything at all until I started doing something,” said Behaylu of his aplastic anemia, diagnosed in February.
The star athlete scored seven goals in a January soccer game but a week later, felt exhausted and out of breath. Nose bleeds and infected cuts led his parents to believe something was seriously wrong. When doctors told Midori and Aidan Barry that Behaylu would need a bone marrow transplant, it was terrifying to hear.
“The reality is we haven’t had time to think about it. You’re a parent. You go into campaign mode,” said Aidan. That campaign lead the Barrys back to a village in Ethiopia where they first met Behaylu in 2007. Then 6-years-old, his biological parents couldn’t afford to care for Behaylu so they put him up for adoption. Though the Barrys had three grown children of their own, they brought Behaylu home and eventually began assisting his other siblings still in Africa.
“We thought we were helping them. We never thought they’d help us,” said Aidan of the family’s quick response to the Barrys’ request for cheek swabs, in an attempt to find a bone marrow donor for Behaylu. Two of his five siblings were perfect matches. Rediat, 16, and Eden, 10, quickly came to the United States.
The trio had two weeks to reconnect, even attending a New England Revolution game when the team was gracious enough to donate box seats. Behaylu’s compromised immune system makes it dangerous for him to be exposed to crowds.
During the visit, doctors decided Rediat should be the bone marrow donor. The two brothers underwent the painful procedure in May. Behaylu also received chemotherapy. Now his body is building a new immune system with the help of stem cells from Rediat.
Behaylu’s siblings have gone home to Ethiopia but the Barrys plan to see them again next year. Behaylu will have a tutor through the summer and fall so that he can return to school in January when he’s healthy.
“He’s been through a lot of difficulty in his life,” said Aidan. “But he adjusts to a situation and he greets things with humor and grace.”
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