NORMAN — Javier Restrepo’s time on this earth might have been a short 4 1/2 years, but it was in those 4 1/2 years that Javier Restrepo stole the hearts of everyone he met.
Two of those hearts belonged to Javier’s parents, Heidi and Santiago. And even though it is still a difficult process, Heidi and Santiago hope that their loss will one day be someone else’s gain.
The Restrepo’s story began when Javier was only 1 1/2 years old.
“He couldn’t kick an ear infection. His belly was getting ascended. When we took him in, his pediatrician sent us to Norman Regional for an ultrasound of his stomach. His liver was packed with blasts, it’s when his white blood cells go bad. So they were cancer cells that had packed his liver. I think over 90 percent of his white blood cells were cancerous,” Heidi said. “It was never even on my radar. Just the worst news. The worst news. Not because of us, but because of him, because of how young he was and what he was going to have to go through.”
That night, the Restrepo family began the biggest fight they had ever faced. Little Javier Restrepo started chemotherapy.
“He was a rapid responder. It was the type of ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) that was between 80 and 90 percent cure rate. He went into remission very fast,” Heidi said.
After months of treatment, it seemed as if the Restrepo family’s prayers had been answered. But the good news didn’t last long. In 2008, Javier Restrepo relapsed.
“He was still on chemo and was having to suspend his treatment because his blood counts were too low,” Heidi said.
Doctors told Santiago and Heidi that they could once again fight Javier’s cancer by finding a candidate for a bone morrow transplant. The couple didn’t have to look far as their oldest child, Diego, was a perfect match. The Restrepo family again was filled with hope that Javier would kick this Leukemia.