Chloe Bella Carvalho from Orlando, Florida, turned 4 last week. However, her birthday this year was not as happy as usual, especially for her parents. The 4-year-old was diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) last month and is in desperate need of a bone marrow donor.
Bella’s parents, Jairo and Nayara, found out about her disease after her babysitters noticed some hard spots on Bella’s belly and the toddler wasn’t acting like herself. She has been at Arnold Palmer Hospital undergoing chemotherapy.
A bone marrow transplant could be Bella’s cure and finding a perfectly matched donor in order to get the best transplant result is needed.
However, the journey to finding a match has been difficult. Due to her Brazilian nationality, the chance of finding a donor who shares her similar genetic ancestry is hard, only about 7 percent, not to mention a perfect one.
Mauricio Murillo, a recruitment supervisor and trainer for the Icla da Silva Foundation—a bone marrow donation center—said, “Unfortunately right now, on the registry of 20 million people, if you’re a Hispanic or Latino patient, you have a 46 percent chance of finding a match on that registry. Whereas if you’re Caucasian, it’s 77 percent.”
He also explained to solve people’s misconceptions about the life-saving procedures for donors, such as a bone marrow biopsy or a spinal tap is an uncomfortable experience, but that’s usually something patients have to go through.
“For patients, it’s a very different process. Hopefully, it’ll save their life, you’ll be there for the day, but you go home that same day,” he said.
Nayara, Bella’s mom, called for the community’s help to diversify the registry.
“A possibility for a match is much higher in our community. It would be very helpful if everyone, just look at her, and see if you could be the one saving her,” said Nayara. “She just turned four last week. I want her to be five and six. I want to watch her grow.”
To join the registry and possibly save Bella’s life and others, visit Join.BeTheMatch.org/SaveBella. The organization has also set up a way for people to register through text. Text “SaveBella” to 614-74.