When DannyRan Matthews goes to the beach, you might just mistake him for a fish. His mom can hardly coax him out of the water. From the first early-morning moment when he climbs out of his tent on the shore, ten-year-old DannyRan just wants to explore the ocean.
For his mother, Eryn, DannyRan’s love for the wide-open ocean stands in stark contrast to his confined first year of life. Just after his two-month vaccines, DannyRan became seriously ill. After several trips to the pediatrician and rounds of antibiotics failed to lead to improvement, he was admitted to the hospital where he quickly deteriorated and was placed on a ventilator. Doctors couldn’t seem to find the answer.
While in the hospital, DannyRan finally began to improve a bit. His hospital doctors planned to discharge him, but his pediatrician was not about to let that happen. She knew something still wasn’t right. DannyRan’s pediatrician contacted a colleague who worked in the Allergy and Immunology Department of the hospital where DannyRan was staying. After further testing, DannyRan’s results seemed to indicate an immune disorder. As his family awaited finalized results from samples sent to Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), DannyRan was sent home under the condition of strict isolation.
That was a Thursday. By Monday afternoon, the results were in. DannyRan had Severe Combined Immunodeficiency and needed to be treated with a bone marrow transplant. On July 1, DannyRan was admitted to TCH. After chemotherapy, a failed first transplant, and a harsh second round of chemotherapy, DannyRan received a successful cord blood transplant in November.
DannyRan’s Mom, Eryn, recalled the Thanksgiving that came just a few weeks later.
“I was very sad that I would not be joined by any family or friends for my favorite holiday. DannyRan was in strict isolation and my husband had to work. Having others [from His Grace Foundation] there, who cared enough to take time away from their families meant the world to me and made me feel less alone.”
Eryn also remembered that HGF’s weekly shopping service was a “way to not completely miss out on shopping for him.” Some weeks, she would ask for specific items. Others, she would ask the volunteers to pick out an outfit for DannyRan themselves so she could enjoy seeing what they chose.
Complications from chemotherapy kept DannyRan in and out of the hospital for months. As February 14th approached, HGF delivered Eryn’s favorite present.
“My favorite item came from a Valentine’s day gift,” she said. “It was a ladybug and heart covered pillowcase. I have no idea why I became so attached to it, but I did. That case traveled everywhere with me, even when I flew, until about 6 months ago when a hole ripped too big to save it and I didn’t want to completely destroy it. My plan is to make it into a smaller case for a throw pillow and continue to carry it with me.”
DannyRan’s favorite gift was carry-with-me worthy as well — a large, stuffed giraffe who DannyRan named Melmin, and still keeps in his bed.
“We were at TCH for so long, we missed an entire year of activity,” Eryn said. “HGF was there for support, friendly faces and surrogate family during our deepest and darkest times.”
When he isn’t cuddling Melmin or swimming in the ocean, ten-year-old DannyRan likes to hunt and fish with his family. He plays tennis, too, and loves creatures of all kinds—from dinosaurs and dragons to his Schleich animal figurines. A perilous adventure behind him, DannyRan quests for a life full of joy.