Saskatchewan

9-year-old Regina boy awaiting life-saving transplant gets 'a miracle'

It’s been an emotional roller-coaster ride for Regina’s Chorneyko family, whose nine-year-old son Vonn had people across the province looking for a bone marrow match to save his life.

Ashley Chorneyko says family will be travelling to Minneapolis for transplant

Vonn Chorneyko and his mother Ashley Chorneyko have received some welcome news. A match has been found to provide a bone marrow transplant for the nine-year-old Regina boy. (CBC News)

It's been an emotional roller-coaster ride for Regina's Chorneyko family, whose nine-year-old son Vonn had people across the province looking for a bone marrow match to save his life.

"We have so many people who love and care for Vonn," said Vonn's mother Ashley.

She said the family hoped and prayed that her son would find a match for a bone marrow transplant, only to meet with disappointment for months on end. She said it was hard having to tell people they weren't the match Vonn needed.

On Wednesday, she finally had the update that brought instant cheer for thousands who'd followed Vonn's story over the past three years. They'd found "the one."

"This time I was so excited, because we actually had good news, better than good news — a miracle."

It's not perfect but under the circumstances, it's pretty perfect to us. - Ashley Chorneyko  

Vonn was diagnosed a few years ago with the rare disease Fanconi anemia, which leads to bone marrow failure. Reginans set a world record for swabs collected last February, with nearly 3,000 coming out to see if they were the match that could save Vonn's life.  

Vonn Chorneyko was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare blood disease, at the age of six. (Submitted by Ashley Chorneyko)

"We were kind of promised that he would have a match. Statistically, we thought he would," she said. "When he didn't, our transplant team, we were all in shock."

The family had been all set to have a transplant last summer with the best match available, but Chorneyko said the transplant team decided it would be better to hold off.

As the months passed, Vonn got sicker and sicker, Ashley said.

Then their prayers were answered.

A nine out of 10 match

On February 1, they got the call that a 9/10 match had been found.

"It's not perfect but under the circumstances, it's pretty perfect to us. We're so thrilled," she said, adding the family will wait for their "donor hero" to be ready, and will then travel to Minneapolis for Vonn to undergo the transplant.

Ashley said Vonn doesn't seem to understand the full magnitude of what's happened, but she knows her son has inspired thousands to get swabbed, something that could save more lives.

"As a mother, to take that step and share your child's story and put it out there is scary and intimidating," she said. "But when you see the benefits of what happens after, that you're you're helping other people, that's just the greatest gift to me and my family."

About the Author

Janani Whitfield spent 10 years working in the newspaper industry in Alberta before joining CBC Saskatchewan as a web writer in 2017. Contact her at janani.whitfield@cbc.ca or on Twitter, @WhitfieldJanani.

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