DUARTE, Calif. (KABC) --A 17-year veteran of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department devotes his life to protecting the lives of strangers, but now he needs strangers to return the favor.
Sgt. Jorge Chavez was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in December and needs a bone marrow transplant as soon as possible. He only has a few siblings that may or may not be a match, so he's relying on people in the community to help.
"I was told that I had a very aggressive type of leukemia and that I would require a second dose of chemotherapy. This time it would be a high dose," he said.
The medical staff treating Chavez at the City of Hope Hospital said someone from his ethnic background would be more suited to possibly being a match for a bone marrow transplant.
"I know I wouldn't hesitate to put myself in harm's way to help a stranger or save their life, and now it's ironic that I need a stranger to save my life," he said.
There are more than 20 million registered bone marrow donors worldwide, and 14.5 million of them are in the U.S., according to Chavez. But sadly, only a fraction of them are African-American, Asian and Hispanic.
"That's why it would be great if as many people could get out there and register to become a bone marrow donor," Chavez said.
ABC7 reporter Leo Stallworth became a registered donor Friday, simply by getting his mouth swabbed with a Q-tip and providing some information on his medical history.
Deputies joined with the Santa Ana Police Department to organize a bone marrow drive in the community on Saturday, Feb. 18. It will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Santa Ana Police Department, 1020 Civic Center Dr.
In order to be a participant for the marrow drive, you must adhere to the following rules:
- Be between the ages of 18 and 44
- Be willing to help any patient in need
- Be in general good health
In addition to becoming a bone marrow donor, Chavez is in need of blood donations, which helps him combat the side effects of cancer treatment.
If you want to donate blood at the drive, you must adhere to the following rules:
- Be 17 years of age or older
- Weigh at least 110 pounds
- Present a government issued photo ID
- Have a good meal before donating
To join the donor program, click here: bethematch.org/