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Leticia Juarez's sister in need of match for bone marrow transplant

ABC7 Reporter Leticia Juarez's sister has leukemia and needs to find a match for a bone marrow transplant. See how to help.
January 17, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A health crisis has hit a member of the Eyewitness News family. Inland Empire Reporter Leticia Juarez's sister, Pam Johnston, is battling a rare form of leukemia and lymphoma.

Pam is Leticia's younger sister, and the two of them are extremely close. As children, Leticia says her younger sister was truly the outspoken one. And as Leticia prepares to be a new mom, Pam is her rock.

"It's been really tough, because I'm pregnant and my sister was going to be there for me," Leticia said, trying to hold back tears. "It's supposed to be a really happy time."

Days after Pam moved back from the East Coast to be closer to her sister, she went to the emergency room with extreme fatigue and anemia. Her blood counts dropped off the chart and she needed a transfusion. She then got the devastating news that she has a rare, aggressive hybrid form of leukemia and lymphoma.

Pam is now being treated at City of Hope with a great team of doctors and nurses, but unfortunately, in addition to chemotherapy, her team says she'll need a bone marrow transplant.

No one in Pam's family is a match, so they are searching the national registry for matches.

"My family and I prayed. We prayed and prayed and prayed and said, 'Please let me be the match.' And then came back the news that I wasn't. I was devastated because, in a way, I felt like I had failed her," Leticia said.

Pam is of mixed heritage, half Mexican and half Caucasian. While a donor of the same heritage would be her best bet, doctors say you never know, and increasing the donor pool could someday help someone you love.

As a reporter, Leticia has covered numerous bone marrow drives. Now, she's on a mission to help her sister and anyone else who can benefit.

A bone marrow drive will be held Monday, Jan. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Sierra Family of Dealerships at 1305 S. Mountain Ave. in Monrovia. The people behind the drive at Be The Match say all it takes is a cheek swab to see if you are a match and can save a life. You must be 18-44 years of age and must be in good health to be a donor.

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