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Couple searches for marrow donor in SoCal

April 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Finding a bone marrow match is hard enough, but it's more difficult when you're trying to find a match for someone who belongs to certain ethnic groups. That's because many ethnic groups have smaller donor registries.Four-year-old Charlotte Conybear lives in Philadelphia where there aren't very many Armenians so her family is appealing to the large community in Glendale.

"It's a very large Armenian community living in Glendale. It is a very dedicated one," said Dr. Frieda Jordan, Armenian Bone Marrow Registry.

In 10 years, the organization has recruited at least 15,000 Armenians. The goal is to double that in the hopes of saving patients, like Charlotte, and the many others of Armenian descent who are in desperate need of a lifesaving match.

"Like Jews or like Chinese or black American people, they have developed a unique genetic makeup," said Dr. Frieda. "It is very difficult to find a match within other registries."

The challenge is to spread the word and educate people about the donation process.

Registering only requires filling out paper work and a saliva swab. The donation process is similar to donating blood, although some cases may require removing bone marrow from a donor's hip which is also an outpatient procedure.

"It's very easy. It's just a matter of being a donor, getting swabbed or donating their stem cells," said Dr. Frieda.

Many we spoke to in the Armenian community are eager to pitch in.

"We Armenians went through a lot so if we can help each other of course," said Glendale resident, Gohar Petrosian.

"Any child, whatever nationality, it doesn't matter not just Armenian, we have to help each other," said Glendale resident, Rosie Arom.

If you would like to see if you are a possible bone marrow donor for Charlotte Conybear you can go to the Glendale Memorial Hospital auditorium, Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. You must be in good health and be between the ages of 18 and 50.