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Church Helps Young Members with Rare Disease


When two of its youngest members were diagnosed with a rare disease, Bethany Christian Reformed Church in Bellflower, Calif., swung into action, conducting a bone marrow drive in the hope of finding a match for the two brothers.

Ryan, 3, and Tyler, nearly 2, have dyskeratosis congenita, or bone marrow failure. Only 12 cases this severe have been diagnosed worldwide. The boys, sons of Michael and Colleen Verkaik, have regular blood transfusions. Tyler is scheduled for a bone marrow transplant at the University of Minnesota.

At the March 21 drive, 461 people did a cheek swab for bone marrow match testing and donated 137 pints of blood to the Verkaik blood bank account.

All the Christian Reformed and Reformed churches in the area are working together for the two boys. Church members erected signs asking for help along the freeway, and local news outlets have picked up the story.

For information on how you can help, contact Leah Slenk at

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