Boy, 3, to donate bone marrow to save younger sister's life

Samantha and Jameson
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The family of a Shelbyville toddler calls him a superhero.

This summer, the three-year-old will donate bone marrow to save his sister's life.

There's no shortage of energy with the Kessler kids.

Watching the rambunctious and excitable siblings play together, you'd never know the youngest, one year old Samantha, is very sick.

"We didn't have any idea anything was wrong with her," said Samantha's mother, Kyrie Kessler. "We went for a check up and they said something's wrong and everything kind-of snowballed from there."

They learned the diagnosis October first: thalassemia.

According to the CDC, it's a blood disorder so rare, that only 1,000 people have the disease in the U.S.

Thalassemia destroys red blood cells, which leads to anemia.

Samantha has to get blood transfusions at the hospital every four weeks. Doctors told her mom that her life expectancy is only 40 years.

The only cure is a bone marrow transplant and her playful siblings held the key.

"They tested all the kids at the hospital and they did further testing and found out that he's a perfect match," Kessler explained.

That perfect match was three-year-old Jameson, a little guy with the big smile, who mom says is thrilled to help save his sister.

"He's excited. Every time she goes to the hospital, he asks me when he gets to fix her so she can start staying home," Kessler said.

"We got him a little costume that has a skeleton on it, so he runs around and calls himself 'Marrow Man' and sissy calls him her hero."

"I'll save her. I give her my bone marrow, to Samantha," Jameson said. "Because I'm going to make her feel better and then I'm gonna save her when she's in trouble."

The young superhero will travel to Cincinnati Children's Hospital this summer for surgery.

"It's a little poke in my back," he said.

Samantha will have to have chemotherapy, in addition to the transplant, so she could be there several months.

The Kessler's are encouraging others to save a life too.

A simple cheek swab and some paperwork is all that's needed to potentially become a bone marrow match.

The family is holding a fundraiser, blood drive and bone marrow registry drive Saturday, at the Skyline Drive-In in Shelbyville.

The theme is "Be The Hero", just like Jameson is for Samantha.

"He's saving his sister's life and you can't top that," Kessler said.

The Kesslers say that's creating a bond between siblings that will never be broken.

Follow Samantha's progress here.