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Teen fighting leukemia needs to find match for bone marrow transplant

Diego faces tough odds when it comes to finding a bone marrow donor match.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas — The KHOU 11 family owes our viewers a moment of gratitude for stepping up in a big way to help save a teen's life.

On Saturday, we shared Diego's story. He's the 15-year-old Montgomery County boy fighting leukemia who needs a bone marrow transplant.

RELATED: Montgomery County family looks for bone marrow donor for teen son

The national database run by Be The Match said it's an uphill battle because donors essentially need to be of the same race and ethnicity as the recipient.

“Seventy percent of the patients who need a transplant don’t have a donor in their family. They’re relying on a stranger,” Be The Match account manager Brian Allison said. “Typically a patient’s lifesaving match is going to be somebody of the same race and ethnicity as them. With similar ancestry to them.”

Diego is Mexican-American and Latinos make up only about 11% of registered marrow donors.

"He has a less than 50% of actually finding a matching donor," Allison said. "The reason most people are not registered is that they don't know it exists."

After sharing his story on KHOU 11, more than 800 people registered as new donors.

If you want to join them, text "DIEGO" to 61474.

CLICK HERE: Register to become a marrow donor with Be The Match

“You could save his life,” Diego’s mother, Mariana, said. The family’s asked KHOU 11 not to list their last name for privacy. Mariana said her high school son is hopeful a match will come forward. “He’s confident that there are good people out there.”

In order to register as a possible bone marrow donor, you need to be between 18 and 40 years old. Applicants need to answer a few questions and submit a swab of their cheek. Be The Match then takes up to eight weeks to process the swab samples before officially adding a person to the national database.

Be The Match is also working to register donors in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

NEXT IN-PERSON MARROW DONOR REGISTRATION: 

  • Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021
  • 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 
  • The Big Jeep Meet 3 at Gillman Jeep Dodge Ram
  • 10585 West Sam Houston Parkway South, Houston, Texas

REGISTER AND REQUEST A CHEEK SWAB VIA TEXT: 

  • Text the word "Diego" to 61474 

Melissa Correa on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram