Mon 28 Dec, 2009 05:44 pm
In September, 4-year-old Maya Chamberlin was diagnosed with a rare blood disease known as HLH. Her chances of survival depend on finding a suitable bone marrow donor.
But the Chamberlin family's search for a match is more difficult because Maya is of mixed race.
The little girl is receiving treatment for her illness in Cincinnati with her mother by her side, while her father takes care of her little brother at home in California.
Maya's mother, Dr. Mina Chamberlin, says her daughter's illness, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, affects the immune system.
Maya needs a bone marrow transplant. But so far, the family has not been able to find a match.
"It's difficult with Maya because she comes from a mixed genetic background," Chamberlin says. "I myself am from India, and my husband is Caucasian " German and English descent " so the combination of the two is making it more difficult to find a match."
Source: National Marrow Donor Program
-Every year, more than 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases for which the only hope of a cure is a transplant from an unrelated donor or cord-blood unit.
-Nearly 210,000, or 46 percent, of the potential donors who joined the NMDP's Be The Match Registry last year were from diverse racial and ethnic communities.
-Mixed-race donors currently make up 3 percent of the registry.
While siblings have a 25 percent probability of being a match, Maya's younger brother, Jaden, isn't one, Chamberlin says.
Right now, Chamberlin says, Maya is stable.
"She continues to get chemo, and she will continue to get chemo until the transplant is done. She knows she's sick, but her spirits are high," Chamberlin says, choking back tears. "She's such a tough little girl."
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