Bone marrow registry drives will help 9-year-old boy

Cruz Colvin
Cruz Colvin

Bone marrow registry drives, which help match donors with patients in need of bone marrow transplants, will be held at three parishes to help a 9-year-old boy recently diagnosed with a blood disease — and others like him.

St. Margaret Mary Church, 7813 Shelbyville Road, will host a drive on March 23 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Church of the Annunciation in Shelbyville, Ky., will hold a drive on April 13 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. St. Rita Church, 7809 Preston Highway, plans to hold a drive April 27 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The drives were prompted by Cruz Colvin, a St. Margaret Mary School third-grader who was diagnosed with a rare blood disease in December.

A message from his grandfather, Tom Filiatreau, explained that a bone marrow transplant is “his best chance for a cure.” Cruz was adopted from Guatemala, so there are no bone marrow matches within his family.

In addition, “he has an uncommon HLA typing (DNA) due to a gene found within the Hispanic population and that makes it especially difficult to find a match,” his grandfather explained. HLA stands for human leukocyte antigen.

“Donors and patients who share the same ancestry are most likely to match,” he said. “But the list of committed potential marrow donors is not as diverse” as the population of the United States.

During the bone marrow drives, potential donors receive a cheek swab which will determine if they can be matched to Cruz or someone else in need of a transplant. The drives are conducted by the National Marrow Donor Program’s Be the Match.

A representative of Be the Match, which recruits potential donors, said that bone marrow matches are found among those of the same ethnicity. About 30 percent of those currently on the bone marrow registry are minorities. Hispanics account for about 10 percent of those registered, said Dannielle Moore.

“Sadly, only 3 out of 10 patients will find a match within the immediate family,” she said in an email. “Seven of 10 patients that need a life-saving transplant depend on Be The Match.”

More information about the bone marrow registry, in English and Spanish, can be found on Be the Match’s website: bethematch.org and bethematch.org/Translated-Materials/Spanish-materials/.

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