STRATHAM — Behaylu Barry had little doubt that a sibling back in Ethiopia would be a match when he was told that he would need a bone marrow transplant to save his life.
The 12-year-old Stratham soccer star got the news he was waiting for on Monday afternoon.
DNA testing revealed that a younger sister and an older brother were both matches for Behaylu, who was adopted by Aidan and Midori Barry when he was six-years-old.
“I was expecting a match,” an elated Behaylu said shortly after he and the Barrys were informed of the match after a meeting at Boston Children’s Hospital Monday afternoon.
The Barrys were hopeful that one of Behaylu’s five siblings in his native Ethiopia would be a match for their adopted son, who was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia last month. The rare disease results in the bone marrow failing to produce enough blood cells.
The symptoms, which included nose bleeds and difficulty breathing, began while Behaylu was playing indoor soccer and on a school basketball team last month.
A seventh-grader at the Cooperative Middle School in Stratham, Behaylu was soon diagnosed with the disease and he began receiving weekly blood transfusions.
“My heart is a little bit lighter. I’ve been on pins and needles. This is just beyond our control and I’m just so glad for him,” his mother said.
The Barrys must now scramble to make arrangements for the two siblings to travel from Ethiopia to Massachusetts for the bone marrow transplant.
They have already reached out to U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte to help expedite the visa process and receive the proper paperwork from governments in the United States and Ethiopia.
“We’re over the moon. I believe we have hope to get a long-term cure,” Aidan said.
It’s possible that both of Behaylu’s matching siblings may come to the United States, but the details are still being worked out.
Doctors told the Barrys that it’s best for a transplant to be performed within 80 days of a diagnosis.
“Speed is important, and the faster we get this done the better outcome we will have,” Aidan said.
The diagnosis came two years after the Barrys found Behaylu’s birth family after a two-year search. Behaylu wanted to know more about his family and he was concerned about their welfare, so the Barrys began looking for them.
After learning about his disease, the Barrys turned to friends in Ethiopia to help obtain cheek swabs from the siblings. The swabs were then popped in the mail and arrived in Massachusetts last week.
While he’s relieved to be getting the transplant, Behaylu has another reason to be excited.
“I way more excited about seeing my siblings than having the transplant,” he said.
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