Benefit for 9-year-old boy with rare blood disease

April 19, 2014

FAIRBORN — When Neil Knight, a first-year medical student, heard about the plight of a 9-year-old boy named Cruz, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare blood disease, he knew he could help by bringing a marrow donor registry drive to Wright State University.

“Cruz’s best chance for a cure is a bone marrow transplant,” said Knight, who is a member of the WSU Boonshoft School of Medicine Phi Rho Sigma student chapter. “However, he has an uncommon gene that is found only within the Hispanic population.”

So, in honor of Cruz, who is from Louisville, Ky., Knight and the Boonshoft School of Medicine Phi Rho Sigma student chapter have scheduled a marrow donor registry drive for 1-4 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at White Hall. The bone marrow registry drive is for adults, ages 18 to 44.

He explained that patients with a rare genetic type, especially racial and ethnic minorities like Cruz, have difficulty finding a match. Donors and patients who share the same ancestry are most likely to match.

“We hope to increase the pool of donors in hope of finding a match for him,” said Knight, who became a member of the Be The Match Registry, a nonprofit organization operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, when he was an undergraduate student at Ohio State University.

Knight learned about Cruz’s plight through Be The Match. A simple cheek swab is all that is needed to determine whether potential donors could be a match for Cruz or someone like him, who needs a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

For more information, contact Knight at knight.87@wright.edu. To make a donation, go to www.bethematchfoundation.org/goto/teamcruz.