A high school baseball star in Conway, Arkansas, 16-year-old Brady attended practice several times each week, lifting weights and exercising. He was the healthiest he had ever been when the results of a routine lab test for a skin medication changed his life.
Brady’s doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital discovered an elevated count of abnormal white blood cells (called blast cells) in his blood work, and on Christmas Eve 2020, he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is a rare form of leukemia, especially in individuals under 20 years of age.
“It was hard. We didn’t know what to think. We didn’t know what to feel.” — Brady’s mom, Rhonda.
Brady was forced to trade baseball practices for chemo treatments. Even though he couldn’t play his favorite sport, his teammates rallied behind him, joining with other members of Brady’s community in a drive-by parade when he was housebound.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Brady demonstrated progress. He was in remission after his first round of chemo treatments. His progress was abruptly halted when Brady received more devastating news in February 2021. Test results showed a high-risk fusion, meaning Brady needed a blood and marrow transplant.
His two siblings were eager and willing to help, but unfortunately, neither one was a match for Brady. Brady’s family was shattered by the news, and their only option was to wait. Thankfully, an anonymous 22-year-old male donor through Be The Match stepped up to the plate for Brady. This donor gave him the gift of life, on his 17th birthday, nonetheless.
Brady and his family made their way to Nashville to the Sarah Cannon Pediatric Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program at TriStar Centennial for his transplant, and now, his labs are looking good and he’s continuing to get healthier. Brady is back to doing what he loves to do most— playing baseball.
“Brady did fantastic through transplant and it was an honor to care for him during his time in Nashville. It is very inspiring to know that an unrelated donor will donate bone marrow to a complete stranger who they don’t know and might not ever meet, an amazing selfless act” said Dr. Haydar Frangoul, medical director of the Sarah Cannon Pediatric Transplant & Cellular Therapy Program at TriStar Centennial.
Brady will be forever grateful to his unknown ‘teammate,’ and he hopes he has the opportunity to meet him soon. “It would be one of the greatest days of my life. Knowing that there’s somebody out there who’s a stranger, doesn’t know who I am at all. Knowing that somebody would give me life. It’s just extremely selfless, and I’m forever thankful for it.”
Privacy rules don’t allow Brady to meet his donor until a full year after his transplant, but he’s exchanged letters with his donor and is looking forward to meeting him soon.