Leukemia Victim Searches For Siblings In Hopes Of Surviving Disease
HOUSTON (AP) _ A 24-year-old man who was adopted as an infant is searching for two siblings who may have the compatible bone marrow doctors say would provide his only good chance of surviving leukemia.
Steven Akin, of Victoria, was diagnosed as having leukemia in 1983. Chemotherapy has failed to restore his health, and doctors have said his chances of survival are small without a marrow transplant.
Only siblings can have bone marrow that is compatible, said the doctors. The body’s defense system will reject incompatible marrow.
″This is my only chance for a cure,″ Akin said Tuesday. ″My remissions will get shorter and shorter and eventually there will be no remissions.″
Without the bone marrow transplant, he said, ″there is only a very slim chance.″
Akin and his twin sister, Sandra Campbell, were put up for adoption as infants and were taken in by stepparents when they were nine months old.The brother and sister recently learned that another sister, Winna Miller, grew up in their same neighborhood.
Blood tests on Mrs. Campbell and Mrs. Miller show their bone marrow is not compatible with Akin’s, although the sisters are mutually compatible.
It was only when Akin legally forced open his adoption papers that he learned he also had two other siblings.
He said the papers showed his real parents were Mildred Kaufman Davis and John Davis. Mildred Davis would now be 57 and her husband 62. Akin said the papers showed they were married in Chicago in 1953 and that in 1957 they put two children up for adoption in Chicago.
Later, the couple apparently moved to Iowa and then to Amarillo, Texas where they offered for adoption Akin, his twin sister and an older sister.
Akin and his wife, Deanna, 22, said there is little information about the Davis children offered for adoption in Chicago.
″There is no way of knowing the sex of those children,″ said Akin. But doctors said there was an excellent chance that one of those siblings, now thought to be in their 30s, will have the bone marrow Akin needs.
Deanna Akin said she has made numerous telephone calls to the Chicago area, searching records by long distance. She also has looked for Akin’s parents, but said there are more than 100 entries for ″John Davis″ in the Chicago telephone book and 10 in Amarillo.
Akin believes his father could be a migrant construction worker, moving from job to job, but he has no proof of it.
Attempts to check birth records in Chicago have been fruitless.
″The hospitals keep saying they can’t give out any information,″ said Mrs. Akin. ″We keep running into dead ends.″
Mrs. Akin said she has obtained a 1957 Chicago telephone directory and is calling adoption agencies listed in the book, but has had no luck so far.
Akin received chemotherpy last year and spent six weeks isolated in a germ- free bubble because the powerful chemical surpressed his immune system. At the end of the treatment, most of the mature leukemia cells were killed, but the disease returned.
Akin said the availability of compatible bone marrow would enable doctors to give him chemicals that would totally kill his leukemic bone marrow. He would then receive the bone marrow transplant which would reproduce and replaced the diseased bone marrow. The bone marrow is the body’s main organ for making blood and immune cells.
The Akins said if they find a sibling with compatible bone marrow, they hope to fly the brother or sister to Houston for the transplant.
Akin said the sibling could remain anonymous.
″If they don’t want to meet me, that’s okay,″ said Akin. ″I just need that bone marrow transplant.″