Brody’s Story

Brody Michael Borlaug was born on April 4, 2008, to parents Jeff and Tracy Borlaug. He was an eager-to-please, passionate and fun-loving little boy.  Brody enjoyed Thomas the Train, Cars, Barney, his keys (and your keys, too!), the swings at the local park, going to Home Depot with Daddy, and, of course, The Oregon Ducks!

In February 2010, just shy of his second birthday, Brody was diagnosed with EBV (Ebstein Barr Virus)-driven Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). His only symptoms were related to what seemed to be a viral infection that he had been unable to overcome during the entire month of January.  At the time, although somewhat confounding, this was nothing alarming to his pediatrician or the other physicians who had reviewed his case.  However, Brody grew gravely ill within a twenty-four hour period and went from chipper and playful to nearly dying overnight.  The onset of HLH is rapid and immediate medical attention is required.  After Brody was diagnosed, in what seemed like the longest week of our lives, he began a treatment protocol consisting of chemotherapy and high-dose steroids.

In January of 2011, Brody was properly diagnosed by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with Systemic EBV-positive T-cell Lymphoproliferative Disease of Early Childhood; an extremely rare primary immune deficiency not common in caucasians and ordinarily only seen in children of Japanese heritage.  It is a very complex disease that is difficult to diagnose due to its rarity.  A bone marrow transplant was suggested as his only hope for cure.  Secondary illnesses–due in large part to side effects from medications and his underlying diagnosis–caused Brody to endured multiple invasive tests and procedures, including surgeries, bone marrow biopsies, spinal taps, PET scans, MRI’s, CT scans, multiple blood transfusions, IVIG therapy, x-rays, countless medications and more.

Brody was doing very well throughout the fall and early winter of 2010, despite his intense year of medical intervention, only to relapse with EBV-driven HLH again in February of 2011.  This delayed his bone marrow transplant, which was scheduled for the end of February.  He again was delayed at the end of March when his bone marrow donor withdrew for undisclosed reasons just a few days before beginning the preparative treatments.

Brody finally made his way towards his transplant in April 2011, just a couple of weeks after turning three-years-old.  On April 22nd, he was re-admitted to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.  He would never come home again.  In the process of preparing his body for transplant, by wiping out his immune system, he had an overwhelming EBV viral load that attacked his liver and in less than two days caused multi-system organ failure.  He died in his parents’ arms on the morning of June 2, 2011–just six days before his scheduled transplant.

Brody endured many challenges that most of us will never experience.  Throughout his 18-month battle, he never lost his courage and perseverance. He reminded us everyday that he was more than a patient; he was a child who managed to find time to play and spread joy through his infectious giggle and charming smile. It was Brody’s strength that led us to believe he would win the battle. Sadly, the delay in diagnosis and long internal struggle proved too much for his young body. He lost his fight, leaving us with a hole in our hearts that will never be filled.

April 4, 2008 – 7:43pm ~ June 2, 2011 – 7:25am