Family hopes to find life-saving cure at Irishfest

MILWAUKEE — For the last six months, a San Francisco couple has tried to find the couple donor who will save their six-year-old son. They’ve spent the last two months in Milwaukee and Saturday, took their search to Irishfest.

Jake Larkin spent Saturday morning on the playground at the Ronald McDonald House. From a distance, it’s hard to tell anything is wrong with the child as he swings back-and-forth.

“Sometimes, my husband and I still look at each other and say ‘Could (the doctors) be wrong?,” said Jake’s mom, Kimberly Cluff, “He’s vibrant, he’s funny, he’s happy, he’s got a great appetite.”

But the lab results have proven otherwise. Jake has Aplastic Anemia. It’s comparable to Leukemia, which destroys white blood cells. But AA destroys all blood cells. Jake is unable to produce any blood – he lives entirely off blood transfusions.

“His bones have just stopped producing blood,” Cluff said, “In our family, we call it  the ‘lazy bones sickness.’ Jake has lazy bones and we just have to find a way to get them restarted.”

Jake’s only hope is finding the right bone marrow donor. That’s where Irishfest comes in.

“The best match for Jake is probably someone within his own ethnic group,” said Penelope Stewart of the Bloodcenter of Wisconsin, “So his best match probably gonna be of Irish decent.”

Dozens of visitors stopped by to give a DNA sample. They did so simply by taking a few swabs of their mouth. Anyone who’s close to matching will be called in for further testing.

“That is progress but no matter what the number is of people added to the registry for Jake, it could be a million, the only number we care about is one,” Cluff said, “It only takes one perfect match donor and Jake can be cured.”

To find out more about Jake’s story and how you can help, click here.

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