Teen saves dad through stem cell donation

Published: Jul. 30, 2020 at 5:41 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 30, 2020 at 6:01 AM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The bond between a father and his son is already special, but for one local father and son duo, their bond is unbreakable. A Black River Falls man is now cancer free thanks to a lifesaving stem cell transplant from his teenage son.

15-year-old Evan Voss has always relied on his dad, Rob, to take care of him. Now, Evan was able to return the favor and not only help take care of his dad, but save his life.

Rob and Evan Voss are a dynamic duo, but they are more than your average father and son. “Whatever we do, we do together,” Evan said. They stuck together through everything from football to fighting cancer. “It’s just a weird feeling that even though he is doing the best he can for his body, things can still go wrong,” Evan added.

Rob was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2017. After many unsuccessful treatments, he finally tried clinical trial at the University of Chicago and around Christmas found out he was in remission. “Once you get into complete remission, you are able to go in for a donor stem cell transplant and hopefully get a lifetime cure,” Rob said. But there was no match in the system and Rob’s brother and sister were also not matches. However, Evan was a half match. “In my mind it just had to be done, just to help my dad,” Evan said.

In April the two went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to have the stem cell transplant surgery. “It was kind of painful and tiring, I basically sit there for 4-5 hours with big needles in my arms,” Evan said. “It didn’t feel the greatest, I will tell you that.”

The process was a little different in the age of coronavirus. “I went to the hospital and I had to walk in alone, it was just me and a few personal belongings and I was in the hospital for 21 days with no visitors,” Rob said. Even though he was physically alone, a piece of Evan was with him, and will be forever.

“It takes a lot of courage for him to be able to do that,” Rob added. It was all worth it since earlier this month, Rob found out he is now cancer free. “To hear the news to have your doctor walk in and tell you, you are cancer free is indescribable and to know that the person that did this to help me was my own son to step up to the plate is pretty amazing,” Rob said.

Recovery during the pandemic has not been easy. “I’m 2 months out of transplant so essentially I have the immune system of a 2 month old baby,” Rob said. To stay healthy, the pair been spending lots of time at home together. “He just has a kind heart and just very blessed to have him as a son,” Rob added.

While at home, they are looking back at old memories and creating new ones, together. “We’ve been through that journey, been through a pandemic, I mean who knows what we can go through,” Evan said.

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