STRATHAM — The adoptive parents of an Ethiopian boy in need of a bone marrow transplant are calling on U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte to help them cut through the red tape if a donor is found within his birth family.
“We’ll need help emotionally, financially and politically if we get a match, and if we find a matching sibling we want to get this moving as soon as possible,” said Aidan Barry, whose 12-year-old adopted son, Behaylu, was diagnosed with a rare condition known as severe aplastic anemia last month.
Behaylu has five siblings living in Ethiopia who provided cheek swabs last Friday in hopes that one is a match to cure the disease, which results in bone marrow failure because the body stops producing enough new blood cells.
The samples are being shipped to the Massachusetts Red Cross for testing. Barry said Tuesday that the package made it to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and should arrive in Massachusetts this week.
In the meantime, Aidan Barry and his wife, Midori, are seeking assistance from the offices of Ayotte and Shaheen to expedite the process if one of Behaylu’s siblings, who range in age from about 6 to 19, is a match and needs to be rushed to the United States for the transplant.
Shaheen and Ayotte have offered to lend a hand.
“Senator Shaheen’s thoughts are with Behaylu and the Barry family. Our office has been in touch with the family, and we’re assisting them with the visa process,” said Nick Brown, Shaheen’s deputy press secretary.
Liz Johnson, Ayotte’s press secretary, said the senator is “hopeful that a positive match for Behaylu will be found, and her office has reached out to the Barry family to offer assistance with the visa process if a match is identified in Ethiopia.”
The Barrys said they will need the support of the American and Ethiopian governments to allow the sibling to arrive quickly for the transplant. The sibling and a guardian will need to acquire passports and exit visas, they said.
The Barrys are also seeking monetary donations to help through Annie’s Angels, a local nonprofit that accepts tax-deductible donations for travel and transplant costs.
The Barrys have received support from Exeter and Stratham families and Seacoast United Soccer Club. Behaylu is an avid soccer player who was picked for a Seacoast United team but will now have to take a year off while he battles his disease.
“I have to say, the community support has been wonderful and many community members have stepped up to offer to help with the things we can’t worry about,” Aidan Barry said.
Weekly updates on Behaylu’s progress can be found at www.anniesangels.net/spirit-of-behaylu.