Arroyo Grande High's Aaron Teixeira steps up as bone marrow donor for brother Ryan Teixeira
Aaron Teixeira waited nervously in front of Arroyo Grande High School on Monday afternoon.
After being pulled out of his fourth-period class, his mother, Holly Teixeira, called his cellphone.
“I’m coming to the school. I will be there in five minutes,” Holly said, leaving Aaron to wonder.
“Oh crap, something’s wrong,” he thought.
Aaron had heard plenty of bad news in the past month. His older brother, Ryan Teixeira — who had already beat cancer once — was diagnosed again with a different form of the disease last month.
Aaron Teixeira was prepared for the worst as his mother arrived.
“I get in the car with her, and she calls my brother,” Aaron said Tuesday. “The first thing that he said was, ‘You did it. Me and you are a 100-percent match.’ ”
Ryan Teixeira was calling from a hospital bed at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he has been undergoing intense chemotherapy treatments since his diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in mid-September. To beat cancer for the second time — after having a 10-pound malignant tumor removed from his leg last year — Ryan Teixeira will need the chemotherapy to work.
After that, the former Arroyo Grande athlete and 2015 Tribune baseball player of the year will need a bone marrow transplant. But when doctors checked the nationwide bone marrow database with more than million members, there were no matches.
“I lost it. I was so happy,” said Aaron Teixeira, a senior and a member of the Arroyo Grande football team. “It was one of those things like I just won the Powerball. It was amazing.”
Ryan Teixeira, who was entering his sophomore year at Colorado Mesa Univeristy when he received his second diagnosis, said being able to tell his brother the good news over the phone was “unreal.”
“I’m not sure I will ever be able to describe the feelings that I had,” Ryan Teixeira said in a phone interview Tuesday from his hospital room. “Definitely one of the greatest moments of my life.”
It might not seem like a surprise that the brothers, separated only by a couple of years, were a match. But doctors said there was less than a 25-percent chance the two would be compatible.
Aaron Teixiera never doubted it.
“I knew for a fact I would match,” Aaron Teixiera said. “I prayed every day, and I didn’t care, I was going to be the match. Nobody could stop that.”
“He was like, ‘I told you so,’ ” Ryan Teixiera said.
Ryan Teixeira called it “miracle No. 2,” with the first coming when doctors recently told him there was no cancer present in his brain or spine.
On Sunday, before Aaron Teixeira was a known match, more than 260 people showed up to Arroyo Grande High School for a bone marrow registry drive. Their information was added to the national database.
Steve Teixeira, Aaron and Ryan’s father, said that although they no longer need a match for Ryan, he hopes people will continue to register.
“Ryan is not the only one to not come up with a match in the system. There are children every day and adults every day that don’t have a match in the system,” Steve Teixeira said, adding that the community support has been incredible. “Really that’s what’s helping carry us through it is all the prayers and support. When this happened to Ryan the first time, it was a kick in the stomach. Then the second time, you can’t even describe it.”
That support has grown past the Central Coast and into Major League Baseball. Three members of the Ryan Teixeira’s favorite team, the Los Angeles Dodgers — manager Dave Roberts, third baseman Justin Turner and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez — showed their support in a personalized video message.
He also received a text message from Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout.
As much as Ryan Teixeira looks up to the MLB stars, it’s his brother who is his personal hero.
“My brother is the big hero, and I was telling him that I am forever in debt. You are saving my life, so I am forever in debt to you. He sure is going to take advantage of that,” Ryan Teixeira said with a chuckle.
The feeling of respect is mutual.
“He doesn’t blink an eye, he just goes and he fights,” Aaron Teixeira said. “It’s heartbreaking. But just the way that he goes about it, it’s heartwarming at the same time. He warms your heart by the way he fights. He just constantly is in that mood where he’s like let’s go do something, let’s go have some fun. It’s awesome how he handles things.”
Because of his weak immune system, Ryan Teixeira must remain in his hospital room. He said he’s doing his best to stay busy and will watch the Dodgers as they begin the playoffs Friday against the Washington Nationals. If all goes according to plan — and the cancer retreats — he will be scheduled for a bone marrow transplant. Aaron Texeira said he will travel to UCLA on Oct. 25 for surgery, in which he will have a needle inserted into his hip to remove his marrow.
A small price to pay, Aaron said.
“It’s for a good cause. I said, ‘You are my brother I would do anything for you,’ ” Aaron Texeira said. “It’s all for him.”
“We have grown, I guess,” Aaron Texeira continued. “We used to get into those fights like normals kids, and we have grown a lot since the first cancer and have stuck together. I am reading a book right now, and there is a really good quote in it: “From the womb to the tomb.”
“I love that quote. It’s like I will stick together with him — no matter what.”