- MATEO https://criscancer.org/en/about-cancer/real-stories/mateo/ MATEO
- MATEO https://criscancer.org/en/about-cancer/real-stories/mateo/ #donaVidaMATEO Hi, my name is Mateo, and I’m two years old. Maybe you’ve heard of me, because, sometime ago, my story was heard all over the world. My story is difficult ...
Hi, my name is Mateo, and I’m two years old. Maybe you’ve heard of me, because, sometime ago, my story was heard all over the world. My story is difficult to tell, but, luckily, it has a happy ending.
When I was two months old, I was diagnosed with a complicated form of leukaemia. Very soon I realised that people do not like the name leukaemia, and are very scared when they hear it. I don’t understand exactly what it means, but apparently it is something to do with my cells not reproducing as they should.
My parents were told that my only chance was having a bone marrow transplant. Neither I nor my family knew what this meant, but we were told that, basically, to go on living, I needed someone to share his or her “blood factory” with me.
My brother Lucas, who is now four years old and was two at the time, is very brave, and wanted to be my donor. However, when the tests came in they said that his cells were different from mine. My mummy says that this is because we are both super-special; that is why I needed to find someone as special as me to help me.
They only had to share some of their “stem cells” as the doctors called them. It seemed so simple to me that it took me some time to understand that adults did not find it so easy to donate this kind of “blood”. Apparently, people donate blood all the time, but they don’t usually get the necessary tests done for bone marrow transplants. I think people are scared of the word “transplant”, and of injections. But even my brother Lucas, who was two, wanted to be my donor! And the injections… I have had so many injections that I stopped counting them.
While I waited for the special person who would give me a second chance, I was almost always in hospital. Hospital is not a fun place to be in for so many months. The doctors and nurses help you a lot, but there are a lot of injections and medicines, and many days when you don’t feel very well. The best thing was the friends I made, who were also fighting against diseases, like me; they became friends for life, and shared our fears and our hopes. Still, time passes very slowly in hospital, and I couldn’t play with Lucas, jump in the park, hug my grandparents or go for walks with my parents, and feel the wind, the rain and the sun.
This is why my parents and all my family moved heaven and earth to explain to anyone who would listen how simple it is to become a bone marrow donor. With only a little injection, they could save lives; they could save children like me.
And people began to understand! They told me that more and more people decided to become donors. Thanks to my story, a lot of people began to understand how easy it was to help sick children, and adults. All over the world, more and more people wanted to help, to spread the message, to become donors themselves and to look for new donors… My “family” became so huge that I couldn’t believe it! Thanks to them, we managed to help a lot of people, and even save lives.
And I found my donor.
When I was 10 months old, I received a bone marrow transplant. It was so simple! The doctors arrived with a magic bag, exactly the same as the ones they used for blood transfusions. This time, however, the bag carried my donor’s cells, but also life and hope. To me, it felt like a simple transfusion, only this time my carers’ eyes were shining, full of hope, while I watched Mickey Mouse House nestled in my mummy’s arms.
Today, a year and a half after the transplant, I am feeling better and better, although the road has not been easy. A little while ago, I got my first vaccinations, and I have finally been able to go to nursery school. Mummy and daddy say that this is a “normal” life for a boy of two. For us, though, it’s a victory. We are incredibly fortunate, and we must enjoy every day, every smile, every kiss.
And we must go on with the fight. I know that many other children are still hoping for an opportunity. Sadly, some of my friends at La Paz were not as lucky as I was. We still need many new donors to help everyone. We must all join in, because only research will be able to cure this terrible disease.
My story is the same as that of so many children who are fighting against cancer. This is why I am asking you to help prevent this from happening.
As we drink this wine, I ask you to help me find a magic formula to prevent this disease from doing so much harm. This will give many children the chance to grow up and learn things, but not about leucocytes, neutrophiles and lymphocytes… No! I want them to learn as they play with their brothers and sisters, at school, as they visit their grandparents, when they travel and enjoy the sun and the breeze…
You can be a superhero today. It is possible to save these children. If you still don’t believe it, look at me. Someone, to whom I will be forever grateful, saved me. He or she saved all my family. You could do the same for another Mateo.