2-Year-Old in "Dire Need" of Bone Marrow Transplant

Sofia Flores, who is battling a rare form of leukemia, has yet to find someone who shares her ethnic background and can be a match

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Faced with a life-threatening diagnosis, 2-year-old acute leukemia patient Sofia Flores is getting some help from the Long Beach community. A bone marrow drive was held on Thursday as her family hopes for a matching donation. Hetty Chang reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 13, 2014. (Published Thursday, Mar 13, 2014)

    The family of 2-year-old Southern California girl with a rare form of cancer is desperately searching for a bone marrow donor after her father turned out not to be a match.

    The odds of finding a match for Sofia Flores -- whose rare form of leukemia affects only 1 percent of children -- are already slim, and her mixed-race ethnicity is making it even more difficult to find a compatible donor.

    In January, doctors harvested marrow from her father Ignacio, but the procedure did not work.

    According to Be The Match, the operator of the world’s largest most diverse marrow registry, about only one in every 500 of its 11 million members goes on to donate to a patient.

    “Only about 4 percent of registered donors are mixed-race,” said Sara Arroyo, outreach and recruitment coordinator for A3M, a local recruitment center for Be The Match. “Sofia is half Caucasian and half Latina, so we are looking at those populations to try and find a match.”

    Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types, which are used to make matches, are more commonly found in people with the same racial or ethnic background.

    The toddler’s best chance of finding a donor is with someone who shares a similar ancestry, but even her father's marrow did not match. According to A3M, only 30 percent of patients find a matching donor within their families.

    “She is in dire need,” Arroyo said. “She is starting the first of her next two rounds of chemotherapy and after that she’ll be ready for another transplant. So far no one in the registry is compatible.”

    Since no match has been found for Sofia, her family has partnered with A3M to host upcoming recruitment drives:

    • Saturday, March 15, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
      The Mill Restaurant
      24690 Washington Ave.
      Murietta, CA 92562
       
    • Saturday, March 15, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
      Orchard Supply Hardware
      3425 E. Colorado Blvd.
      Pasadena, CA 91107
       
    • Sunday, March 16, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
      El Patron Express Drive at Super King Plaza
      2234 Lincoln Ave.
      Altadena, CA 91101
       
    • Saturday, March 22, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
      Children's Hospital Los Angeles
      4650 Sunset Blvd.
      Los Angeles, CA 90027
       
    • Sunday, March 23, Time: TBA
      Club Real Madrid Viewing Party
      Location: TBA
       
    • Thursday, March 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
      One World Trade Center
      Long Beach, CA 90831

    Registering to donate is noninvasive and only takes a swab of saliva to determine a match. To be a volunteer donor, A3M requires that you be between the ages of 18 and 44 and be willing to help any patient.

    If you are unable to make it to one of the drives in person, you can join the registry here.

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