Louisville couple hosts bone marrow drive to raise awareness in honor of son

Back in March 2023, Ebony Lowman and Gregory Lowman Jr. learned their 3-year-old son Trey had a tumor covering over half of his brain.
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 12:40 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Back in March 2023, Ebony Lowman and Gregory Lowman Jr. learned their 3-year-old son Trey had a tumor covering over half of his brain.

It’s a disease called ATRT. Doctors say it’s a very rare, aggressive tumor that begins in the brain and spinal cord.

Since his diagnosis, it’s been a battle the family never could have been prepared for.

Trey has undergone two brain surgeries, gone through chemotherapy, and suffered a stroke and seizure.

“There are moments where you’re at your lowest, and you don’t know how you’re going to find the strength to deal with the next word out of the doctor’s mouth,” Trey’s father said.

While in treatment at Norton’s Children’s Hospital, doctors needed to use Trey’s own stem cells for recovery after the chemo, but his first two stem cell transplants failed.

If the transplant failed a third time, Trey would need to find a bone marrow donor in order to receive more stem cells.

That’s when his parents learned just how difficult it is to find a good match, especially for communities of color.

With the genetic complexity of matching donors to patients, your best chance of finding a match is with someone of your same ethnicity. That’s why it’s so important to have a diverse pool of donors on the registry.

“There’s a lack of donors for kids, especially in the African-American community,” Ebony said. “Our kids have a 29% chance of finding a donor, compared to if you’re white, you have a 79% chance.”

Miraculously, Trey’s third transplant was a success. It sent Ebony and Gregory on a mission to encourage more people to become bone marrow donors, and that’s when they teamed up with the non-profit Be the Match.

“The problem we were running into was that nobody knew about this information,” Trey’s father said. “Nobody had heard about giving stem cells or being a stem cell donor for transfer.”

The couple is hosting a bone marrow drive that will take place at Burnett Avenue Baptist Church on Sunday, Sept. 24. They hope to raise awareness about how simple it is to register to become a donor – all it takes is a cheek swab.

“We hope to educate people on this and help them learn that it’s a simple process, a simple mouth swab, that could possibly make you a match for someone and change their life,” Ebony said. “It costs you nothing to save a life, Be the Match covers everything if you’re a match for someone.”

After facing the possibility of being unable to move forward with treatment due to not having a donor, they’re trying to prevent the same thing from happening to other kids.

They say they’re inspired by Trey, who, despite it all, has never given up.

“He can’t have that normal childhood,” Ebony said. “Cancer’s taken that from him, but like I keep telling everybody, it cannot take his spirit away, it cannot take his fight away.”

To make a donation to his GoFundMe, click or tap here.