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Family meets strangers who saved their child's life

Posted at 7:21 PM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 20:21:49-04

WAUWATOSA — After seven grueling months, the O'Keefe family was grateful to meet some of the strangers who saved their son's life.

Doctors at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin said 11-year-old Ian spent several months battling severe aplastic anemia. At one point Ian was in a coma for weeks.

"The type of white cell that is most important for fighting a bacterial or fungal infection is a neutrophil or a granulocyte. They're synonyms," said Dr. Dave Margolis with the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. "There are certain diseases that lead to not making those cells and that's what Ian had."

Doctors did not know if Ian would ever leave the hospital. However, he his family, and his care team at the MACC Fund Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin kept pushing. Then, nearly a dozen strangers went through a two-day process to donate the white blood cells Ian needed. They had no idea their generosity would save Ian's life.

"It's outstanding that there's people out there that are so committed to take two days off of work and spread the joy. Keep someone else going," said David O'Keefe, Ian's father.

"You are our angels. It's unbelievable," said Lisa O'Keefe, Ian's mother.

The Stevens Point family hugged and shook the hands of the donors who were able make it to the reunion.

"This is why we do things that we don't know what the outcome's gonna be because it could be this," said one of the donors.

Ian was finally able to go home two weeks ago. His doctor says he's still recovering but doing well.