What to Know
- Seven-year-old Ryan Jacoby is battling leukemia and needs a bone marrow donation from someone who matches his ethnicity.
- Ryan is biracial: half-Vietnamese and half-Caucasian. The chances of finding an exact match are slim.
- To register for a donation, visit BetheMatch.org or text "Match4Ryan' to 61474.
A 7-year-old boy battling leukemia is in need of a mixed-race donor for a bone-marrow transplant to save his life.
In 2017, Ryan Jacoby — who is half-Vietnamese and half-Caucasian — was diagnosed with a form of cancer called acute myeloid leukemia, a month before his birthday.
"It was shock, anger, denial," said Chris Jacoby, Ryan's father. "I couldn't believe it."
Doctors struggled to find donors that matched Ryan's ethnic background.
They relied on his older half-brother Matthew as a possible option. Matthew underwent a stem cell transplant for his brother.
For the next year, Ryan's cancer went into remission and he was able to enjoy life, learning about animals, going to the beach, and playing with his kitten Sonic.
Top news of the day
Then, in February, he started getting headaches again. He was brought back to the hospital where doctors performed a spinal tap and bone marrow examination. The leukemia had returned.
"He went from playing Little League Baseball to going in and out of the hospital," said Chris.
Ryan's family created #Match4Ryan to spread the word about their son's condition and their search for a donor who is also Vietnamese-Caucasian — which has proved to be a daunting task.
"Leukemia usually starts in the bone marrow where white blood cells are made and it spreads by way of the blood stream," said Dr. David Freyer, Ryan's primary oncologist at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "It can lead to anemia, bleeding problems and infections."
Freyer noted that Ryan's case is especially unique because he developed myeloid leukemia, which is uncommon for children and also requires a donor specific to his ethnicity.
"There are not many volunteer bone marrow donors signed up who have that background, which is making it difficult to find a well-matched bone marrow donor for him," he said.
Doctors and family members are encouraging anyone available to sign up for a donation online with BeTheMatch.org, where users can apply to be blood stem cell donors.
People can also sign up by texting "Match4Ryan" to 61474.