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Homestead Boy Looking for a Match at Calle Ocho Festival

Seven-year-old Julian Morales of Homestead, Fl., has been waiting for more than 4 years for a blood stem cell transplant. His mom, Mayra, does all she can each day to help her son maintain as normal and healthy a life as possible – and she asked Be The Match to sponsor the Calle Ocho Music Festival to help raise awareness of her son’s need for a blood stem cell donor.  Mayra is desperate and is pleading for support from community members to help save her son’s life. Be The Match helps patients battling life-threatening blood cancer or blood disorders to find a genetic match that can give them a second chance at life.  Calle Ocho Festival attendees can visit SW 21st Ave at Calle Ocho on Sunday, March 10, to register to find out if they’re Julian’s match.

Hispanics Have a Harder Time Finding a Match

Julian appears to be like any other first grader—he loves video games, playing with his sister and eating chocolate ice cream. But he suffers from a rare, life-threatening blood disorder called Dyskeratosis Congenita and bone marrow failure. His only hope for a cure is an unrelated blood stem cell donor because nobody in his family is a match.  Julian’s search for his perfect donor is more difficult because of his Hispanic ethnicity, which is a blend of Mexican and Nicaraguan. Without a transplant his life will be cut short.

“It’s very difficult because Julian can’t do everything like other children his age,” said Mayra Garcia, Julian’s mother. “We want to see our son healed. But that may not happen if we cannot find a blood stem cell match.”

Because people are more likely to match someone of their same ethnic background, his family is hoping more Hispanics will join the national Be The Match Registry®. Even though the Be The Match Registry is the world’s largest and most diverse blood stem cell registry in the world, only 7% of the more than 20 million registry members are Hispanic. The result is that Hispanic patients like Julián only have a 46% chance of finding a fully matched blood stem cell donor compared to a 77% chance for those who are White.

Julian and his sister

How to Save a Life
Becoming a potential donor is simple. Register online with Be The Match at https://join.bethematch.org/saveJulian or text CALLEOCHO to 61474 to complete an online registration form. Be The Match will send a swab kit with easy-to-follow instructions on how to complete the registration process at home and return the swab samples in the mail. About 1 in every 430 U.S. Be The Match Registry members go on to donate to a patient.  Only people identified as a genetic match for a searching patient are asked to donate blood stem cells. The process is safe, free and confidential.