I first learned about Devan on Twitter, when writer Susan Orlean tweeted this:
“The darling son of my very dear friends has leukemia and needs bone marrow. Please, please RT and take a look here: www.matchdevan.com/ ”
RT, in Twitter language, means “retweet,” or send it along to the people who follow you. Susan Orlean has more than 50,000 followers on Twitter, so when she tweeted about Devan, all those people would have learned about him – and many of them retweeted it to their own followers, all in an effort to help save this young boy.
Devan Tatlow is absolutely adorable. He is 4 years old, has dark curly hair and eyes that smile from here to the moon. He has acute promyelocytic leukemia, which is rare, and he needs a bone marrow transplant in the next 10 weeks. His bone marrow is exceptionally hard to match because he is a mixed-race child: his father is European and his mother is Polish and south Indian. Though the global adult stem cell/bone marrow registry has 14 million members, there is as yet no match for Devan – or many other patients around the world just like him.
The tweets flew. Bloggers blogged. Paris Hilton joined in. Media outlets picked up on the story. Even The National, a newspaper in Abu Dhabi, printed a story asking for people in the United Arab Emirates to register due to their south Asian descent and the number of inter-racial marriages.
All for one small 4-year-old boy.
Devan has some good news. Doctors told his parents this week that they have found umbilical cord blood of a newborn baby that is a match. It’s not perfect, and they won’t be certain for two weeks. But for Devan’s parents, it already feels like a lifesaver.
"We're just thrilled to hear this news,” Devan’s mom, Indira Lakshmanan, told radio station WTOP. “They had gone through all of the adult registries and the fact that they hadn't found anyone there was incredibly discouraging."
Here’s the deal. It’s really, really easy to register with the National Bone Marrow Registry. All you have to do is register online. They will send you a swab kit. You swab the inside of your cheek, and send the swab back. That’s it.