Ohio mom urges minorities to donate bone marrow after baby boy is diagnosed with leukemia

Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Baby diagnosed with leukemia; mom begs minorities to donate bone marrow
After her 13-month-old was diagnosed with leukemia, one Ohio mom is encouraging minorities to donate bone marrow to help save lives.

OHIO -- "Your child needs a bone marrow transplant but because he's black, it's going to be really hard to find a match," - that's a phrase no parent ever wants to hear.

But sadly, that was the reality for Alaina Goode-Ransome after her 13-month-old baby boy had not one but two heartbreaking diagnoses - an autoimmune disease and leukemia.

"When he was admitted, when they found the leukemia, he had over 50 percent cancer cells in his body," Goode-Ransome told WEWS.

Chemotherapy reduced the number of cancer cells to nine percent but Kairo still needed a bone marrow transplant.

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But the boy didn't have any siblings to test so doctors took to the donor registry, and that's when Goode-Ransome said she got the shocking news - her son may not have a perfect match because not enough minorities are donating.

According to Be The Match, when matching human leukocyte antigen (HLA) types ethich background is important because "HLA markers used in matching are inherited. Some ethnic groups have more complex tissue types than others. So a person's best chance of finding a donor may be with someone of the same ethnic background."

Now, she wants a change.

"It's something that African Americans, not just African Americans, but all minorities need to start talking about."

In July, the National Marrow Donor Program made changes to make testing easier.

Now, cheek swabs are no longer required on-site at drives.

Instead, people can take the kits home, or order one online, and mail them back.

"So this gives you the opportunity to kind of think about it, take some time to reflect and once you get home and you mail that kit back, then we anticipate you'll be a more committed donor and we'll follow through the whole process," said Akron's nurse, Jeanne Konowal.

Doctors are hoping Kairo will get a transplant in September.

More information about bone marrow donations can be found on Be The Match's website.