Boy in bubble inspires donors

Boy in bubble inspires donors

Emma Poole, Calgary Herald
Published: Monday, February 12, 2007

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Evan Pogubila doesn’t know it yet, but he has inspired dozens of Calgarians to give a little bit of themselves to help save a life.

In honour of the eight-month-old, who has lived in isolation at the Alberta Children’s Hospital since November, friends and family have signed up to donate blood tonight. Others have also agreed to become bone marrow donors.

“It’s fantastic,” said Evan’s mom, Melanie Pogubila.

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As the only child in Western Canada with severe combined immunodeficiency disease — a condition brought to the public eye by a 1976 John Travolta movie, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble — Evan has been living in solitude from the public for more than three months.

Caused by a genetic defect, the condition is the rarest, and deadliest, of the primary immunodeficiencies.

Children with the disease lack lymphocytes, the white blood cells that the body uses to fight infection.

For Evan, any contact with the public — including his twin sister, Jordan — could compromise what little of his immune system is left.

Transplantation is the only chance Evan has of beating the disease and leaving the hospital. As he waits, Evan regularly receives blood transfusions.

Melanie Pogubila is a longtime donor, while her husband, Frank, gave blood last week for the first time.

“Just through our experience with Evan, (Frank) realized that if someone is donating to Evan, he should be able to reciprocate,” she said.

While no one in Evan’s immediate family is a bone marrow match for the little boy, the Pogubilas hope their donation and that of their friends will help others.

The group will gather at the Canadian Blood Services office in downtown Calgary tonight for a donor clinic in honour of Evan.

More information on donating blood can be found at
© The Calgary Herald 2007

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