A bone marrow donor drive is scheduled for Saturday to raise awareness of the need for donors and support a Raleigh girl who is suffering from a rare blood disorder.
The drive is set for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, at Wiley Elementary School, 301 St. Mary's St., in Raleigh. All potential donors need to do is fill out a registration form and have the inside of their cheek swabbed for testing. Donors age 18 to 44 are urgently needed. People in that age group are 10 times more likely to be a match.
The drive will seek matches for people waiting for critical bone marrow transplants. It also could turn up a donor who might be a lifeline for Lucia Wiley, the six-year-old girl who is the reason for Saturday's event.
Lucia was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia in July. Aplastic anemia happens when the bone marrow stops making enough red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets for the body, according to the National Marrow Donor Program. Risks include life-threatening infections and bleeding.
Helen Wiley, Lucia's mom, tells me that they began to notice several things toward the end of the school year. Lucia was sleeping later than usual, was pale and had a lot of bruises on her legs.
"Since she is a tomboy, it did not concern me right away since she is always kind of banged up. Then we noticed red dots clustered in areas around her body," Wiley wrote me in an email.
They went to the doctor the next day when a bruise - 2.5 inches in diameter - appeared on her stomach that was protruding. Lucia was sent to UNC Health Care and, finally, Duke Medicine, where doctors ran a battery of tests. Six weeks later, they diagnosed Lucia with severe aplastic anemia.
Lucia immediately began a rigorous course of treatment with daily medications and regular trips to Duke. Right now, doctors are waiting to see if her body can get better on its own. If not, she will need a bone marrow transplant.
Wiley tells me that a donor has been identified. Doctors are following up with further testing to see if it's a perfect match. The drive on Saturday could turn up a back-up match for Lucia if needed.
"Right now we are in a wait and see stage," she wrote.
Thank you to Ilina Ewen of Dirt & Noise, for telling me about this event and Lucia's story. You can read more about this sweet girl in Ilina's post. To learn more about the drive and how you can help, click here.