Local teen seeks bone marrow match; community shows outpouring of support
Lukas (left), along side his mom Dena, big brother Axel and twin brother Oliver during the “Be the Match” bone marrow drive at Dazbog on Saturday, October 26.
Article and photos by Elean Gersack
Lukas Larsson has a smile so wide it reaches from ear to ear … and his kindness and optimism are contagious. A long-time Castle Pines resident, Lukas attended both Buffalo Ridge Elementary and Rocky Heights Middle schools, and is now a junior at Rock Canyon High School along side his twin brother, Oliver. He loves to play soccer and escape to the mountains to ski with his family.
In July, Lukas was admitted to the hospital after experiencing fatigue, shortness of breath, and headaches while in the mountains. After lots of tests both in and out of the hospital, Lukas was diagnosed with pediatric myelofibrosis, a rare and progressive blood disease. The only cure is a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, no one yet has been found to be a match.
Lukas’ family – mom Dena, dad Anders, and brothers Axel, Max and Oliver – decided to take matters into their own hands by organizing bone marrow registry drives to help find a match for Lukas and others like him.
On Saturday, October 26 the family organized a drive for “Be the Match,” a national marrow donor program which screens and matches marrow donors with those in need. With lines out the door throughout the half-day event held at Dazbog Coffee in Castle Pines, nearly 400 people ages 18 to 44 from the community and beyond came out in hopes they might be able to help Lukas.
“It’s the kindness of people I know and the kindness of strangers … it’s amazing,” Lukas remarked about the outpouring of community support during the bone marrow drive at Dazbog.
Several more drives occurred in November and there are two more planned for December. The first one is on December 7 at “Holiday in the Meadows” at The Grange in Castle Rock from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., sponsored by Love Hope Strength. A a second drive is scheduled for December 15 at Dazbog in Castle Pines from noon to 5 p.m., sponsored by owner Lisa Newman and Genny’s Hope Foundation.
Both groups also work with Delete Blood Cancer (DKMS), the largest bone marrow donor center in the world. Since this organization accepts samples from participants ages 18 to 55, there is more opportunity for those who previously wanted to register but were older than 44.
Results from the bone marrow drives take approximately 6 to 8 weeks. So, while Lukas continues to seek a match, he is living his life as normally as possible while he receives blood transfusions about every two weeks to keep his blood count from dropping too low. His activities have been very restricted, limiting soccer play to simply kicking the ball around. On opening day at A-Basin earlier this fall, Lukas could not resist the temptation and enjoyed about an hour of skiing before realizing that was enough. “His hemoglobin is half of what it should be so he gets tired quickly,” said Dena.
As the search continues, the best way to support Lukas is to spread the word about his need and get more people added to the bone marrow registry. Anyone ages 18 to 44 can complete a quick screening application online at Be the Match (join.bethematch.org/Lukas) and receive a simple mouth swab kit. It’s really simple and completely painless.
“The community has been so incredibly supportive and we have just been amazed by the kindness of our friends, neighbors, schools and strangers. It warms us immensely. It really helps us stay strong and go on, especially since we have no family living in Colorado. Our families in Iowa and Sweden are organizing marrow donor drives also,” said Dena.
The close-knit family is anxious for the call letting them know that a match has been found, and how terrific would it be if that match were found right here in our community. “We are a strong family and we look forward to celebrating Lukas and his health when he is cured,” added Dena.