Mom feels relief knowing 8-year-old son will get transplant this summer after record-breaking donor drive

The eight-year-old boy who inspired a world record-breaking donor drive in Regina will be getting a bone marrow transplant this summer.

Vonn Chorneyko has yet to find perfect match, but date set for potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant

Vonn Chorneyko reads a book with his mother Ashley in the eight-year-old's bedroom in Regina. Both Vonn and his mother are hoping he can stay healthy and do the things he loves, by finding a match to donate bone marrow that will save his life. (CBC News)

The eight-year-old boy who inspired a world record-breaking donor drive in Regina will be getting a potentially life-saving bone marrow transplant this summer.

While Vonn Chorneyko's perfect match has yet to be found, his mother, Ashley Chorneyko, explained the family has now learned that he has a summer date set for the transplant.

"For us as parents, obviously it's gut-wrenching knowing that your son is going into a transplant, which is so risky," she said. "But the reality is we know he needs one."

Vonn was diagnosed with the rare disorder Fanconi anemia two years ago, which impedes his body's ability to produce all blood cells. As his body shuts down and he gets sicker, each day carries risk for him, whether it's catching infections at school or hitting his head and suffering a brain bleed.

"You kind of feel like you have that axe over your head all the time and it could fall on you at any moment," said his mother.

Having done a lot of research, the family has chosen to have Vonn's transplant done in Toronto, because of the experience doctors there have with Fanconi anemia and their specific knowledge about the disorder. It's a relief to have made the decision and to feel as if they have made the right choice, said Chorneyko.

It's Vonn's only chance at a transplant, since transplants are usually only attempted once, but if it is successful, there's the possibility that it will be curative of his day-to-day symptoms. However, the better the match is, the more likely his body will accept the transplant.

"We're going to have the best match we have and go forward with that," she said.

Since Vonn's diagnosis, the family has encouraged people aged 17 to 35 to sign up as potential donors of stem cells with the Canadian Blood Services' OneMatch stem cell and marrow network.

More than 3,000 people came out to a February donor drive to sign up, and many of those swabs are still being tested to see if they yield a match.

Even if her son doesn't get a perfect fit between now and the summer, Chorneyko says she knows for certain that someone among those 3,000 will make a potentially life-saving donation.

She encouraged people to continue to sign up.

"There's always people just like Vonn, waiting for a match, so the more people on the registry, the better for everybody."