A 4-year-old Oregon girl is being hailed a hero after donating bone marrow to save her baby brother, who was born with the deadly “bubble boy disease,” the family says.
Khloe Land wore a Superman dress on Monday when she underwent a transplant to donate bone marrow to her 7-week-old brother, Colton Land, at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, Good Morning America reported. Colton was born without an immune system, and Khloe is his only sibling who was a perfect match for him.
“He’s incredibly lucky to have had a matched sibling,” Dr. Evan Shereck, leader of the transplant team, told GMA. “We prefer matched sibling donors because we know the outcomes of transplant are really good.”
Colton was about a week old when doctors learned he has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a disorder that results in a weak immune system susceptible to severe infections, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. It has also been called “bubble boy” disease, NPR reported.
Doctors said a bone marrow transplant from a match was Colton’s only hope.
“My husband and I were hoping it was our older daughter [Krissy Land] because she understood and she wanted to be the one to help her little brother,” Kayla Land, Khloe’s mother, told GMA. “When we found it was Khloe, she was really excited at first and then fear kicked in within about 30 seconds and she broke down and told us how scared she was.”
On Monday, Kayla shared a photo of Khloe laying in a hospital bed and using a tablet. She began the Facebook update simply with “My sweet girl.”
“She had such a hard time but she’s so brave,” Kayla wrote.
She added of Krissy: “Big sissy is having a hard time — she’s held in all the emotions and stress for a long time and today was the breaking point. She can’t wait for her sissy to be out and okay.”
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One day earlier, she shared a photo of her three children sitting in the grass.
“Tomorrow is the day,” Kayla wrote. “It’s the first day to a new life for our sweet boy and a huge relief for Khloe once she gets done saving his life. Worrying for one child is so difficult, worrying about two is immensely challenging.”
Kayla has shared photos and updates on Kayla and Colton’s health journey on Facebook. Ahead of Monday’s procedure, she told KMTR that Khloe was eager to be her little brother’s “superhero.”
“She gets down on the floor and tells him that she’s going to save him,” Kayla recalled to the station.
The children are expected to stay at the Ronald McDonald House in Portland for three months after the transplant, KMTR reported. A GoFundMe page has been set up to cover medical costs for the siblings.