“Celebrate, you’re going home!”

Patient Stories |



From near death to new life, father and son rejoice in the love and the stem cells that bind them.

By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior writer, mgilmer1@iuhealth.org

It was a festive mood on the stem cell unit at Riley Children’s Health on Wednesday, as 6-year-old Levi Galvez finished a 40-day inpatient stay following a stem cell transplant.

Levi and his dad, Geovani, who donated his own bone marrow and never left his son’s side after the transplant, were ready to head home, but not before a celebration singalong, courtesy of the fifth-floor team members.

“Celebrate, you’re going home!” they sang to him, encouraging him to break through the ribbon tied across the hallway. Levi has his own way of doing things, however, so he just ducked under the ribbon.

Regardless, he is going home. There, he planned to play with LEGOs and try out his new toy vacuum. Levi had his Riley wagon jam-packed with the toys, blankets and supplies he had accumulated over the 40-day stay. In fact, it was packed and ready to go the night before discharge.

As his dad took in the moment, he said he was feeling thankful above all else.

“I remember when we found out he was going to need a transplant and I met his stem cell physician for the first time,” Geovani said. “I asked her (Dr. April Rahrig) if she would do this for her child, and she started crying and said yes. She’s wonderful. She took great care of us.”

From that moment, he said, he felt a sincere connection with Levi’s care team.

“I’m grateful we were able to come this far. I really appreciate the fact that everybody took the best care possible of him.”

That includes Levi’s dad, too.

Levi with his father leaving Riley Hospital for Children

Geovani almost wasn’t around to help save his son from the leukemia Levi has been battling since he was just 2 years old. Geovani, who works in the emergency department at IU Health Methodist Hospital, tried to take his own life last summer.

He was saved by his own colleagues and continues to give thanks for their care and the counseling that has helped give him the strength to be there for his son.

The inpatient stay wasn’t without sickness and stress, Geovani said, but today, his cells are 100% engrafted and making healthy blood cells in his son, giving him another chance at a life free from cancer.

Asked if he felt like Superman, Geovani smiled and said, “I feel extremely grateful. There are children who don’t make it. I’m grateful for his health, his strength and especially for the staff here.”

Photos by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, mdickbernd@iuhealth.org

Previous stories:

He tried to take his own life. Now he is saving his son - Geovani Galvez lacked purpose and hope that July day when he shot himself. Seven months later, he is donating bone marrow to help his little boy beat leukemia.

Keeping watch over his son - Geovani Galvez hasn’t left his 6-year-old son’s side since the boy received his dad’s donated bone marrow last week.

Related Doctor

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April L. Rahrig, DO

Pediatric Hematology - Oncology