Bone marrow transplant registry saves lives

Posted at 9:27 PM, Nov 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-20 23:27:16-05

Nine-year-old Beckham Macgillivray is a seemingly normal fourth grader today, but three years ago his family wasn't sure if he'd make it much past his seventh birthday.

After being diagnosed with hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or HLH, Beckham needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.

It's a process most people don't know much about, but the Macgillivray family of Eagle quickly found out how complicated it can be.

"Family members only have a 25 percent chance of being a match, and there's a 75 percent chance we wouldn't match," Beckham's mom Bree said. "And no one in the family matched. We thought maybe a friend could be a donor, but the chances of that is one in 200,000."

The family then registered Beckham with the nationwide Be The Match registry hoping to find a bone marrow donor. Within three months,  the family's prayers were answered by a 22-year-old stranger from Boston who was a match.

A year after the successful transplant, the family reached out, interested in meeting Beckham's life saver. Matt Dimario has now flown to Boise twice from Boston, to spend time with the Macgillivrays.

Now, Beckham says he hardly remembers the surgery in Cincinnati and all the days spent in the hospital. He hopes other people join the registry to help people like him.

There is a registry drive being held Saturday, November 21, at the Canyon County Paramedics at 6116 Graye Lane, Caldwell, ID 83607 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. Healthy adults ages 18-44 are encouraged to join the registry. All that's needed is a cheek DNA swab to be added to the database.