The San Jose SWAT Team, known locally as the MERGE Unit, stormed into Kaiser Santa Clara Hospital on Wednesday.
They knew there was an emergency in the pediatric ward. When they arrived, team members in full gear were greeted by a smiling 6 year old. Eduardo Grijalva has been battling cancer for half his life.
His latest fight is against leukemia. Eduardo needs a bone marrow donor to save his life. “I think it’s amazing because he’s always been talking about wanting to be part of the SWAT team,” said Laura Gonzalez, Eduardo’s first grade teacher at River Glen Elementary in San Jose.
On Wednesday, the MERGE team showed up to make Eduardo an honorary member, giving him a full uniform with helmet and goggles. They even pinned him with the symbol only a few officers have earned the right to wear.
They call it the H-Pin, worn by those who served in the elite unit. “He’s worked really hard and he’s going through a lot of trials and tribulations,” said Merge Unit commander Brian Shab. “He’s being brave and courageous, and he’s fighting though it. And he knows he’s going to beat this in the end. That bravery is what got him to earn that pin today.”
Eduardo had just undergone another round of chemotherapy before officers arrived, so he was a bit lethargic.
He didn’t speak, and could only give a smile at times, and a thumbs-up. The site of a by who’s fighting hard was enough to move even the officers who are used to knocking down doors and tackling bad guys.
“Very, very emotional. I had to hold my breath sometimes and stop and catch my breath because tears were ready to come out,” said MERGE member Alfonso Hernandez.
The unit commander said the second part of their mission this day was to become a part of the permanent solution.
So the entire team lined up at the hospital, and swabbed their cheek so they can become a part of the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.
“So one day. He can be on the team,” said Shab.
Latinos lag behind other groups as members of the registry.
The most likely match for Eduardo is someone of Latino descent, preferably someone from Mexico City, or the Mexican states of Guanajuato and Michoacan, where Eduardo’s family is from.
Eduardo’s school, River Glen Elementary, is holding a bone marrow drive on Friday March 29 beginning at 2:30 pm.
At one point, Eduardo’s mother, Ana Contreras looked at the MERGE Unit members, and said,
“That’s amazing. You can come here to see my son. He’s so happy.” Ana is praying Eduardo finds a match, she says, so her son can one day put on his MERGE pin, and go save someone else’s life.