HOUSTON — Arham is a 6-month-old baby boy in Houston who is battling leukemia. Alesha is a 2-year-old girl in The Woodlands who has two rare diseases. Both Houston children need bone marrow transplants to save their lives.
The odds of finding matching bone marrow donors are even higher for Arham and Alesha because there aren't enough people registered who match their heritage.
Several drives are being held around Houston this weekend to register bone marrow donors who could be a match for these children, and others.
Alesha has already defied the odds and proven doctors wrong.
“Because, with the syndrome, doctors say, 'We don’t even know if she’ll be able to walk,'" Alesha's mother, Marina Rupani, said.
Alesha doesn’t just walk, she runs. But there are other challenges, like talking and eating on her own.
“It’s a constant struggle to make sure that she grows," Rupani said.
Alesha's mom doesn't know what tomorrow will bring, but she dreams of a normal life for her little girl.
“A life that she’ll have where she can be outside, go to school, be with other kids and be herself."
Alesha has been waiting for a year for a match, but it’s a donation where diversity matters: 61 percent of the stem cell registry is Caucasian, 11 percent is Hispanic, but African American and Asian, what Alesha needs, is only 7 percent.
“We’re trying, and hopefully, one day before it’s too late, we’ll be able to find a match," Rupani said.
A nonprofit called DKMS makes it easy for you to sign up for the bone marrow registry. All they need is a cheek swab. They host local drives or can send you a kit in the mail - all free.
If you’re a match, most donors will be asked to give blood, but if bone marrow is needed, doctors take it from your hip bone in a quick outpatient procedure.
DKMS is hosting several drives this weekend:
Friday, April 19, 1-2:45 p.m.
Mission Bend IC
6233 Tres Lagunas Dr
River Oaks IC
310 Eastside St
10415 Synott Rd
Mosque Al-Salam Champions
16700 Old Louetta Rd
Friday, April 19, 6-8:45 p.m.
Clear Lake IC
17511 El Camino Real
Sunday, April 21, 1-2:45 p.m.
Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom
30 Poplar Pine Court
If you can't make it to a drive, you can have a swab kit sent to you for free by registering here.
Follow Alesha's journey on her Facebook page.
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