Alberta father searching for stem cell donor for his toddler arrives in Ottawa

Jacob Marfo's two-year-old son Ezra was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia. (Photo supplied by Jacob Marfo)

An Alberta father is on an agonizing cross-Canada search to find a rare bone marrow match to save his toddler’s life. Jacob Marfo’s journey arrived in Ottawa on a mission to bring hope to Ezra.

“I hope and pray we have a match for my son,” he said.

Two year old Ezra was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia in 2021. Marfo became a stem cell donor but was not a perfect match. His son relapsed earlier this year.

“It is very painful to watch and stay 24/7 in the crib. If you want to lift him, he has to be near the crib because he has so many tubes connected,” said Marfo.

The problem is there aren’t enough donors for Ezra, who was born in Alberta and is of African descent. He waits at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary for his match.

“Individuals of African origin are difficult to find matches for, in part because there aren’t many donors of African origin,” said Dr. Matthew Seftel, a physician with Canadian Blood Services.

Marfo has been travelling the country attending swab events hosted by members of the Black community.

“I’m not related to Ezra or Jacob in any way,” said Jennifer Adu-Gyanfi, a registered nurse.

She spearheaded the swabbing events here in Ottawa at the All Gospels Church in Orleans and at 26 Thorncliffe Pl. in Nepean.

“My son is also called Ezra, who is also two, they’re just two weeks a part. With my work and family, that (story) just touched me. If we can save a life why not?” said Adu-Gyanfi.

The process of becoming a donor is simple. After answering a health questionnaire you get a swab kit to collect DNA. Meanwhile Marfo hopes these efforts will raise awareness of the need for more donors from diverse backgrounds and potentially save a life.

“If you can’t save my son you can save another person,” he said.

Source: CTV News