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Marrow drive held to find match for ill child

February 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Family and doctors of a 6-year-old boy issue a plea for help, hoping a suitable bone marrow donor will come forward to help save the child's life.Doctors have been treating Eduardo Morales-Pena with chemotherapy but they say it's no longer effective. They're desperately trying to find a bone marrow donor because Eduardo's life depends on it.

Eduardo is a fun-loving kid who knows all the moves to Michael Jackson's hit songs, but he's also seriously ill. He's been in and out of hospitals battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia since he was 2 years old.

"He actually looks really good when you look at him right now. He's very active, he looks terrific, but his disease is still there," said Dr. Jeff Johnson of LAC-USC Medical Center. "Really, the way for him to be cured is to take out the bad cells that are in there and get them replaced with some that are healthy."

A bone marrow drive was being held Tuesday at the L.A. County USC Medical Center with the goal of finding a bone marrow donor for Eduardo and also to get more people in the bone marrow registry.

Doctors say patients are most likely to match someone of their own race and ethnicity. However, there are very few Hispanic people in the registry.

"It's very important, and a lot of times, Hispanic people won't come out because of different things, you know, they don't like needles or they just don't think they are able to do so, but they need to come out," said Lillian Carbel, a potential donor.

The test for a bone marrow match involves some simple mouth swabs. It takes only a few minutes. And by taking the time, someone may be able to save a little boy's life.

By the time the drive ends at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, organizers hope to have 400 new people in the bone marrow registry.

For more information on being a donor, you can call 1-800-MARROW-2, or 1-800-627-7692.