“Little” Ricky Roman isn’t so little anymore, he is now almost as tall as his dad, “Big” Ricky. In February, Little Ricky turned 16, but the blood pulsing through his body is technically only seven years old. In May, he celebrated his 7th transplant birthday, 7 years after receiving a stem cell transplant from an unknown donor.
In September 2010, Little Ricky wasn’t feeling well. He was bruising easily and his eyes were a pale yellow. His parents rushed him to the doctor. One month later, he was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a rare and serious condition in which the bone marrow stops producing enough new blood cells. It leaves you feeling weak and fatigued, with a higher risk of infections and potential heart complications.
Little Ricky was an active child, so his fatigue was an obvious sign that something was wrong. He liked biking, baseball and boxing. After diagnosis, his obsession with boxing took on a new meaning. While no one is prepared for a battle with cancer, Little Ricky became a true fighter.
The Search for a Match
It was determined by his doctors that a stem cell transplant was his only cure. At the time, there was no match on the Be The Match bone marrow registry. Aunts, uncles and cousins were tested. Unfortunately, no one was a match for Little Ricky. With the support of his family, friends and the Icla da Silva Foundation, everyone was determined to find a match. We held bone marrow drives, getting as many people as possible to join the registry, and we all hoped that a life saving match would turn up.
Ricky spent a year going back and forth to the hospital, for treatments, tests and observation. His mom had to quit her job so that she was always available for a quick trip to the hospital, an overnight stay, or weeks of treatments.
Finally, A Match Was Found
Little Ricky Roman, the fighter, received a successful transplant in May of 2011 at NY Presbyterian Hospital.
Someone who had joined the Be The Match registry was a match for Ricky. Fortunately, they said yes to a stem cell donation. Ricky has yet to meet the donor who joined the registry. He knows that it is a woman, and he is grateful that she said yes when she received the call asking her to donate. We hope to be able to arrange a meeting between Little Ricky and his donor.
Annual Ricky Roman Fundraiser
Since the time of his diagnosis, the Roman family has been very supportive of the Icla da Silva Foundation. They are avid sports fans; they ran together in our annual 5K, and for the past 8 years, the Roman’s have been hosting a Softball Fundraiser to support the Icla da Silva Foundation. We are extremely grateful for their efforts. The money they raise helps us continue fighting for patients who need a bone marrow transplant. You can click this link to find out more information about the Ricky Roman Softball Fundraiser and register a team.
If you are in or near Jersey City, join them on the field:
Saturday August 4
Caven Point Softball Fields, Jersey City, NJ
It’s easy to enter a team, or simply support their efforts through a donation.
We are very grateful and we appreciate their continued support of our efforts. We know many patients are thankful as well (click below to support the fundraiser).
Keep Fighting Ricky
According to his Aunt Maria, Ricky is doing well. He starts High School in the fall. He loves baseball, bikes, and playing video games. Of course all children love playing video games, often to the exasperation of many adults, but this is a special circumstance. Spending a year in and out of the hospital for treatments gives ‘playing video games’ a new understanding.
Keep fighting Ricky, keep playing, keep growing, and thank you to you and your family for continuing to raise funds for us.