IRMO, SC (WIS) - James Nuovo, 3, of Irmo, definitely looks the part of your average toddler.
In reality, however, he is fighting a disease that only affects 1 in one million children each year.
His journey began two years ago during James’s 15 month checkup when a routine blood test revealed a serious problem: an abnormality that even had the doctors stunned.
"(The doctor) said he was severely anemic. And she was surprised he was still walking, and talking," says James' mother, Courtney Nuovo.
After dozens of tests and trips to the doctor, James was diagnosed with Hypocellular Myelodysplastic Syndrome. MDS is a blood disorder, that mimics leukemia.
His father, Mark who is also a Columbia firefighter explains, "It's pretty much a disease that only affects the elderly which, how he got it, no idea."
MDS attacks the red and white blood cells and the platelets, rendering blood ineffective in clotting or fighting off illnesses. Over time, doctors determined the best course of action would be a bone marrow transplant.
“Donors drop like flies, and that left us pretty well stranded until we could find someone, and thankfully we have,” Mark said.
Mark and Courtney are grateful James found a match and hope by telling their story, others will consider donating bone marrow. The couple traveled to Atlanta for James' procedure last week. While the procedure itself was considered successful, it's not yet clear how well James will respond over time.
“They’re going to monitor him for 5 years, and we’ll still have to go for countless appointments to Atlanta - and I don’t even know how much these prescriptions are gonna cost” said Courtney.
It's a high price to pay, but as parents of four children Mark & Courtney are doing whatever they can to help their youngest son in the fight of his young life. They are trusting God to do the rest.
“The biggest thing we’ve always asked for is for people to pray for James,” said Mark.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, the Nuovo family will host a fundraiser to offset the medical costs of James' procedure and treatment.
The spaghetti dinner will be served at Emmanuel Lutheran Church located at 2491 Emanuel Church Rd. in West Columbia from 12 p.m. until 2 p.m. The price is 10 dollars per plate. All proceeds go directly to the Nuovo family.
You can also donate to the family’s GoFundMe page.