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Red Hook Nonprofit Hosts Bone Marrow Drive for Toddler

By Nikhita Venugopal | November 18, 2013 10:16am
 Two-year-old Owen Hogan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and his family is searching for a bone marrow donor to continue Owen's treatment. Friends of Firefighters is hosting a bone marrow donor drive.
Owen Hogan
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RED HOOK — Two-year-old Owen Hogan was diagnosed with a rare bone marrow disorder in the spring — and now local nonprofits are organizing bone marrow drives to help him.

Owen has aplastic anemia, a rare condition that occurs when your body stops producing enough new blood cells, according to his family and the Mayo Clinic.

“It’s not cancer although it’s treated very much like cancer,” said Tim Hogan, Owen’s father and a firefighter in Brooklyn for the past eight years. “It’s just as devastating.”

Owen's doctors say the next step in his treatment is a bone marrow transplant, and local groups including Friends of Firefighters in Red Hook are organizing drives where interested donors can join the National Bone Marrow Registry to see if they're a possible match for Owen or another patient in need.

Friends of Firefighters will host its drive every day this week at 199 Van Brunt St. for interested donors between the ages of 18 to 55.

“This is the last approach that they’re really confident with,” said Hogan, who with wife Kathleen also has an infant son named Ethan.

If Owen fails to find a marrow match, he will be moved into clinical trials, which means he will be given rarely used treatments, his father said.

Finding a match has been challenging but if there’s a perfect match, Owen will have an 80 to 90 percent chance of survival, Hogan said. His chances are still high with an imperfect match but without any donors, his chance of survival drops to 40 percent, Hogan said.

The symptoms for aplastic anemia are similar to those of leukemia, said Enrica Marchi, a hematology and oncology resident at Lincoln Medical Center, who does not have direct knowledge of Owen’s case.

Doctors are trying to get the bone marrow transplant completed as soon as possible since both the treatment and the disease are suppressing Owen’s immune system, which makes him more prone to developing an infection, Hogan said.

Owen is living at home in New Hyde Park, and his parents said his spirit is strong.

“If you looked at him, you would never know he was sick,” Hogan said. “Right now, we just need to concentrate on him and give him exactly what he needs.”

For more information on FoF’s weeklong event, visit this website.