Mashpee's Little Warrior Finds A Bone Marrow Match


Bryson Hendricks is still living up to his moniker as the “Little Warrior.”

The 2-year-old member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has been battling a rare disease known as CD40 ligand deficiency.

His family recently received news that could save his life.

Marcy Hendricks, Bryson’s mother, got a call from doctors explaining that they had found a match for bone marrow.

“I cried for an hour and a half,” Ms. Hendricks said, upon receiving the news. “It’s wonderful. It’s the best thing that happened to us in two years.”

Doctors diagnosed Bryson with the deficiency early last year and told the family that in order to stop the disease, Bryson needs a bone marrow transplant to re-boot his body with healthy bone marrow stem cells.

Because of Bryson’s Native American heritage, he had less than a 1 percent chance of finding a match.

A national database of donors compiled by Delete Blood Cancer lists that about 1 percent of the approximately 800,000 on the list are Native American. In contrast, about 75 percent of those 800,000 are Caucasian. The center is the largest global bone marrow donor center.

Additionally, a mix of ethnic backgrounds further complicates finding a match for Bryson. While Bryson’s family is mostly Wampanoag, he is also part Puerto Rican, Cape Verdean and Nipmuck.

But since the diagnosis, Ms. Hendricks and her family held events to encourage the community to submit a swab to the database and the community responded in a big way. “Community members did step up and that got us through the hardest times,” she said.

And in November, Ms. Hendricks said that they received news of the match.

Because of privacy laws, the family does not know who the donor is yet, but they could find out in a year when the donor is provided with the Hendricks’ information.

Ms. Hendricks said that Bryson is doing well so far, and that he is in high spirits. He is beginning to learn his ABCs and his numbers. Bryson made a quick hello to this reporter over the phone during an interview with his mother before he could be heard cheerfully bouncing around the house.

“When the transplant takes place, I’ll be holding onto these memories,” Ms. Hendricks said of her son’s enthusiasm and recent news. The procedure, expected to begin in late winter or early spring, is likely to take a lot out of her son. She said that the fight is not over and anyone wishing to make a financial donation can do so at any TD Bank; the fund name is Bryson Hendricks.

The last two years have been tough for Bryson and his family. His older brother MaDarrius Burgo suffered a spine injury in a dirt bike accident in August in Mashpee.

“We’re moving forward,” she said.