A brave 4-year-old donated his bone marrow to his twin baby brothers and has now been dubbed a "superhero" for his efforts.
Michael DeMasi Jr. didn’t hesitate when his mom, Robin Pownall, asked him if he wanted to help his little brothers, Giovanni and Santino, who were both born with Chronic Granulomatous Disease, a rare immunodeficiency disease that is life-threatening if not treated.
"We had the twins in October." Pownall said. "They needed a bone marrow transplant to potentially cure them. They go to siblings to see if they will be a donor match and Michael was, in fact, their match."
Pownall said she and her husband told Michael what would be happening and that it would be painful, but Michael knew he was helping his brothers. Both of them were in the hospital.
"We [put] a lot of thought into it, especially ethically," Pownall said. "How much did he understand at 4 years old? But we told him. We said, 'There is going to be a big needle going in your back and they’re going take your blood from your hip and they are going to take your bone marrow out.'"
Michael agreed and his family gave him the "superhero" moniker, which he could relate to. Two months ago, the twins, at 4 months old, had the transplant. Michael was able to watch the transplant and kept yelling, "That’s my bone marrow!"
His mom said he was running through the halls of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia telling everyone.
At 6 months old, the twins are doing much better. They have engrafted Michael’s cells.
"He is our hero," Pownall said.
And Michael continues to have an extra special bond with his brothers.
"He’ll randomly go up to them and kiss them on their forehead and say, 'I love you baby,'" Pownall said. "He’s very protective of them."