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Area teen stars in ESPN feature – with the doctor who saved him

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ian and david bucks

STEVENS POINT, Wisc. (WAOW) -- Ian O'Keefe has gone through a lot in his 13 years.

In January, his mother passed away from cancer.

Before that, in 2019, he was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia.

Aplastic anemia is a blood disorder that keeps bone marrow from making enough red and white blood cells and platelets.

"His tank was low, it was empty. It was 0.00," said his dad, David O'Keefe, "First, they tried immune suppression where they could get it as low as they could and kind of revive it. When that did not work, we were in desperate need of a donor."

Ian spent time at Children's Hospital Milwaukee, and at one point, was put in a medically induced coma and intubated.

Thankfully, he found a donor who saved his life.

This donor, a man from Poland, was a perfect match.

"He got his bone marrow transplant and slowly his garden started to grow," O'Keefe said. "Now it's been 2 years post transplant and from being on a ventilator to seeing him now is remarkable."

Ian is in remission and is now the star of an ESPN feature alongside his doctor, David Margolis.

The Children's Hospital physician shows his support for the Milwaukee Bucks in a unique and colorful way: by dyeing his hair bright green.

The neon green caught Ian's eye when he was waking up from his transplant surgery.

Ian wanted in on the fun, and three weeks later, he got his chanced.

After physical therapy and help from his sister, he gained enough strength to dye his doctor's hair.

Now, two years later, they did it again.

But this time, it's for an ESPN feature celebrating the Bucks success.

"Doctor Margolis is a brilliant doctor and he said if you could come down, I couldn't think of a better candidate to do this with and ESPN wants to interview Ian."

Besides being a Bucks fan, Ian loves reading, spending with his family, and watching movies.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation even set him up with his very own home movie theatre.

Ian's health is improving everyday and his family is thankful for how far he's come.

"It's been a horrendous ordeal to have to go through, but we're so grateful that everything has turned into a positive direction for Ian."

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