On Feb. 17, five-year-old Jake Larkin of San Francisco was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia.
The condition is a “blood disorder in which the body’s bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells,” according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In Larkin’s case, the disease would have been fatal without a bone marrow transplant.
Seven months later, Larkin, now six, is on the road to recovery in Milwaukee, where he and his family moved for specialist care. He received a bone marrow transplant on Sept. 15 at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
In honor of Larkin’s recovery, the 2040s Lofts on Wisconsin Ave. is hosting a get-well event, which will include the making of “Get Well Soon” cards, according to Hien Doan, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences and a 2040 Lofts employee planning the event. The fundraiser, open to the public, will take place Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. in the 2040 Lofts.
“I’ve been keeping up with his story and his family for months,” Doan said. Though she does not know the Larkin family personally, she, like many others, has been following Larkin’s story through the news and the extensive social media campaign the family used to raise awareness about bone marrow transplants and find a match for Jake.
Through websites such as MatchJake.org, Facebook and Twitter, the family reached out for the gift of life from a stranger, said Kimberly Larkin, Jake’s mother.
The search for a positive match for Larkin was not easy; it took almost six months to find a donor.
“It took us a while to find the so called ‘needle in a haystack’ for Jake,” said David Margolis, Larkin’s doctor, in an interview with local news station TMJ4. Since Larkin’s transplant, things have been looking up for the Larkin family, according to the MatchJake Facebook page.
Larkin was released from the Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 20 days earlier than doctors had predicted. “He still has a long way to go before he’s out of the woods,” the latest post on the Facebook page read, “but now every day is a new opportunity to take one more step closer to an all out win!”
The fundraiser and get-well event at the 2040s seeks to support Larkin in his recovery by collecting donations, Doan said. The money would be donated to MatchJake.org, the organization set up by the Larkins.
Doan is not the only member of the Marquette community who will be supporting Larkin on Tuesday evening. Members of the Marquette men’s basketball team will also be in attendance, Doan said. Juan Anderson, Chris Otule, and Jamil Wilson have all confirmed their attendance with Doan.
While the event will take place Tuesday evening, Doan said donations for Larkin and his family will be accepted throughout October.
“By helping one person at a time, even if the contribution is very minuscule,” Doan said, “we can make a big difference in that one person’s life.”