ABC News Features Toddler with SCID Saved by Stranger’s Bone Marrow Donation

ABC News and Good Morning America brightened up our morning by featuring a story of 1-year-old Alle Jilg, whose life was saved by total stranger’s bone marrow donation.

Alle is living with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), which is also known as the “bubble boy” disease.

The families of both Alle and donor Jacob Oswald finally got together, providing us with our chicken soup for the soul!

What is SCID?

Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is a primary immunodeficiency disease characterized by little or no immune responses.  This results in frequent recurring infections with bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

SCID has sometimes been informally called “bubble boy disease” because patients are so vulnerable to infectious diseases that some, like David Vetter or “bubble boy,” have been confined to a sterile environment. Those with SCID have an immune system so highly compromised that it is considered nearly absent.

SCID is associated with recurrent viral infections and causes several hospitalizations before it is officially diagnosed. One unusual infection that can be present with SCID early on is pneumocystis pneumonia. Other symptoms (generally in infants) include:

  • Frequent and severe respiratory infections
  • Poor growth
  • Rashes that look like eczema
  • Chronic diarrhea

To learn more about SCID, click here.

“My Donor is Forever my Hero.”

Just seven days after Alle was born, she was diagnosed with the rare disorder, and her doctor broke down her parents just how dangerous SCID is.

“The doctor specifically asked me if I understood the severity of it,” Mike Jilg said. “The way he described it was, the common cold for us could kill her in less than 24 hours.”

Any parent can imagine the horror behind those words.

With her immune system so weak, Alle needed a bone marrow transplant to survive.

Cue Jacob, who had registered to be bone marrow donor back in 2011 and all but forgotten. Little would he know that he was primed to save a young girl’s life.

Alle had her surgery in February of 2018, and is doing just fine!

Through a national bone marrow program called “Be The Match,” Alle’s family was able to communicate anonymously with Jacob and finally, just last month, both the Jilgs and Oswalds met in person in Nebraska.

According to GMA, Alle even wore a shirt that said, “My donor is forever my hero.”

“It felt like we’ve known him forever,” mom Tia Jilg told GMA. “With Jacob he’s a family member to us and we’d like to make trips to see him and his family. They’re amazing.”

And Jacob was beyond touched to play such a big role in this young stranger’s survival.

“It was really emotional to know that it was a baby girl considering we had our own [daughters],” Oswald told GMA. “Getting a chance to sit down with the family and talking about what they had been through and opening our arms and accepting another child into our family essentially, it was a full scope of emotions. She [Alle] smiled the entire time we were there.”

We are hoping and praying for Alle’s future — thanks is no small part to Jacob — and thank you Jacob for your donation!

And if you’re interested in being a hero like Jacob, learn how you can be a donor here!

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