Baby King needs a bone marrow donor. Can you help?

King Nazir Leon, 2, needs a bone marrow transplant, the only cure for a rare disease that affects his immune system. Photo by Mike Greenlar/Syracuse Media Group.

King Nazir Leon, 2, needs a bone marrow transplant. Potential donors can register today at Upstate’s Setnor Hall and Cancer Center. Photo by Mike Greenlar/Syracuse Media Group

King Nazir Leon, age 2, has CD40 Ligand deficiency, a rare disease that affects his immune system and is life-threatening. He has monthly, day-long treatments at the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. His mother, Denisha DeLee, is vigilant about his health, watching for any sniffle or sign of fever, which means a race to the emergency room and probable hospitalization. At this stage, King’s best hope is a bone marrow match.

Would you take 20 minutes to try to save Baby King from this disease?

Tesha English collects tissue samples by swabbing her mouth with a Q-tip, a key component to registering as a marrow donor, 2008.

Tesha English collects tissue samples by swabbing her mouth with a Q-tip, a key component to registering as a marrow donor. Photo by Susan Keeter.

If you are between the ages of 18 and 44, and willing to donate to any patient in need, come to Upstate Medical University and sign up for the marrow registry today (Friday, Jan. 29). African-Americans are especially encouraged to register because King is most likely to match with someone of his own race. (Tissue types are inherited, so marrow transplant patients are most likely to match with someone of their own ethnicity.) However, everyone is welcome to join.

King loves Mickey Mouse, Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles and his Grandma Honey. He likes listening to music, especially the hip-hop song, “Long Live the King,” created for him by Makhai “Truth Speaker” Bailey, a 16-year-old student at Syracuse’s Henninger High School. Bailey, who is too young to donate himself,  performs the song to raise awareness of King and his need for a marrow transplant.

King’s mother plans to be at the marrow drive to thank the students and staff at Upstate for trying to find a donor. The marrow donor drive is open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon at Upstate’s Setnor Hall atrium and 2 to 4 p.m. at the Upstate Cancer Center lobby.

If you  are unable to attend today’s drive, and would like to register as a marrow donor or host your own marrow drive, contact the the William G. Pomeroy Foundation at info@wgpfoundation.org.

To learn more about the bone marrow registry, go to the national donor program, Be the Match.

To learn more about Baby King, read this Post Standard story.

What is a bone marrow transplant?

A bone marrow transplant is a life-saving treatment for people with leukemia, lymphoma and many other diseases. First, patients undergo chemotherapy and sometimes radiation to destroy their diseased marrow. Then a donor’s healthy blood-forming cells are put into the patient’s bloodstream, where they can begin to function and multiply. In order for a patient’s body to accept these healthy cells, the donor’s tissue type needs to match the patient’s type as closely as possible. Patients who do not have a suitably matched donor in their family may search the National Marrow Donor Program Registry for an unrelated bone marrow donor or cord blood unit. –National Marrow Donor Program

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About susankeeter

Occasional contributor Upstate’s Susan Keeter has written about and painted Upstate’s Dr. Sarah Loguen, one of the first African American women physicians. Keeter created the horse sculpture in front of the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital and illustrated a children’s book on autism, “Waiting for Benjamin.” She’s written for Physician Practice, Upstate Alumni Journal, Cancer Care and Upstate Health magazines. Reach her by email at keeters@upstate.edu or by phone at 315-464-4834.
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