Help AJ Battle Life-Threatening Illness

For Med City FC goalkeeper Alexander “AJ” Jarvis, 2020 was shaping up to be a banner year. He would be enjoying his last off-season of college soccer in the spring, graduating at the end of the school year, rejoining Med City FC in the summer for the third season, returning to school in the fall to start his Master’s degree and use his last season of college eligibility, and getting married in October.

Unfortunately, like for all of us in the soccer world, Covid-19 stopped everything in its tracks. A cancelled spring season, a muted graduation, no return to the Mayhem, massive changes to his wedding plans. It would be a lot for any young man to digest. But it became even more challenging a few weeks ago with a trip to the doctor.

AJ had been working out hard all summer despite all the restrictions of Covid-19. He was bicycling every day for miles, continuing to work on his goalkeeping skills and doing strength training to prepare for his final collegiate season. And when the preseason started at Bellevue University, in the Omaha, Nebraska area, he added the demands of that to the rest of his workout regimen. Things were going well. He was feeling strong. And then something changed.

He started feeling light-headed every time he stood up from the couch. He was starting to struggle during his workouts. The bike rides became harder for no apparent reason. AJ didn’t think much of it at first. Then, as he stood up from the couch one evening, he fainted, hitting his head during his fall. His fiancé Hannah was worried, but he brushed it off as fatigue. But then he had a similar incident during off-season goalkeeping workouts, leading him, along with Hannah and his head coach at Bellevue, Mark Heath-Preston to decide he should go see a doctor.

It was about a week before he was able to get in for an appointment. And after a long battery of tests, it was determined that AJ was suffering from a disease called Severe Aplastic Anemia. Basically, his T-cells identified his blood as a foreign infection, causing his white blood cells to attack it. Due to this autoimmune attack, his bone marrow stopped producing its own red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and hemoglobin. When the doctor found out what AJ was diagnosed with, he said he couldn’t believe that the goalkeeper was even able to come into the clinic under his own power, be as functional and coherent as he was - let alone alive.

Due to the severity of the disease, AJ has immediately begun treatment. His medical team has decided to try to take a medicinal approach to the problem. After an emergency ICU admittance, a week later his treatment began with four days of inpatient care at the Warren Buffett Cancer Center of UNMC, where he received medication intravenously as well as orally. The treatment puts AJ in a highly immuno-compromised position with an increased risk of infection. He has been prescribed an additional medication to try to help counter that. After four days of inpatient therapy, he will continue to have weekly labs along with blood and platelet transfusions. A re-evaluation will be done after three months with the hope that he will have a successful remission over the course of six months. Doctors have given this treatment plan an 80% chance of working for AJ, based on his age and physical condition.

If the treatment doesn’t work, or he experiences a future relapse, the next option would be a bone marrow transplant. However, AJ isn’t a good candidate for that because he does not have any biological siblings and, therefore, comes with more risks such as graft-vs-host disease and the potential for more harm and even death.

All of this has put a huge psychological and financial burden on AJ and his soon-to-be-bride, Hannah. To help then try to cope with this, Med City FC has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for AJ’s medical expenses. The bills for his treatment are anticipated to be around $700,000 and while insurance will cover a big cost of that, there will still be some financial challenges for them to overcome. Anyone who is able, is encouraged to support AJ during his battle with Severe Aplastic Anemia by donating money for his recovery. Thanks to everyone who can help!


Frank Spaeth
Rochester, MN

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