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updated: 4/8/2011 4:21 PM

Former Des Plaines' family: Donate bone marrow

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  • Brad Christiansen and his son Teddy will participate Saturday in the Red Shoe Run for Donor Awareness 5K in Rockford. The Christiansens are urging more people to join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry.

      Brad Christiansen and his son Teddy will participate Saturday in the Red Shoe Run for Donor Awareness 5K in Rockford. The Christiansens are urging more people to join the National Marrow Donor Program Registry.
    Photo courtesy of Jenny Christiansen

 
 

Jenny and Brad Christiansen know without the help of an anonymous, 45-year-old female bone marrow donor, their son, Teddy, might not be alive today.

For the Union, Ill., couple originally from Des Plaines, finding that perfect bone marrow donor match for Teddy was a miracle.

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Now the Christiansens are asking others to be the miracle for children like Teddy by joining the National Marrow Donor Program.

The family is participating in Saturday's Red Shoe Run for Donor Awareness 5K and fitness walk in Rockford to raise funds for the Be The Match Marrow Registry.

The run begins at 8 a.m. Proceeds from the event will help pay for the cost of tissue-typing for people interested in joining the registry.

"Our whole family is going to be there and we're all going to do it, and we're going to have Teddy walk at the end," Jenny Mukahirn Christiansen said. "We're so grateful for what we have. It gives people hope, and it's needed for so many people, to read success stories."

The Christiansens also are accepting donations through the Teddy Christiansen Foundation to help get more people on the marrow registry. Donations may be sent to P.O. Box 401, Huntley, IL 60142.

Teddy, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder -- dyskeratosis congenita -- that causes bone marrow failure, underwent an invasive bone marrow transplant on Nov. 6, 2009.

The surviving half of prematurely born twins, Teddy was diagnosed with a rare variant of the disorder, Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome, which could lead to leukemia or solid organ cancer.

His transplant involved killing off his own bone marrow through chemotherapy and radiation and dripping stem cells extracted from the donor into his body. He was kept in isolation for 19 days and received blood transfusions for weeks until his blood counts improved.

The stem cells are growing and Teddy's own diseased bone marrow cells have not re-emerged. He is doing so well that it's been more than a month since he saw a doctor, Jenny Christiansen said.

'He's just being monitored right now. He's off all his medications, as far as his transplant-related stuff," she said.

Teddy, who is now 4-and-a-half years old, goes to preschool in Huntley five days a week and has started swim lessons through the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association.

"For the first time, he has been able to do something extracurricular, outside of the home," Jenny Christiansen said. "We were never able to put him in any kind of program or outdoor activities."

To follow Jenny's journal about Teddy, visit caringbridge.org/visit/teddychristiansen/journal/.

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