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Vijay Mehta

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« Thread started on: Nov 27th, 2009, 5:30pm »

Latina Teen Meets Her So. Asian Bone Marrow Donor
By GREG HEFFERNAN November 02, 2009 06:47:00 PM
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Madhuri Mistry, Alexandra Sanchez & Darshana Vakharia

CERRITOS, Calif. – It was a tearful, emotional moment when Darshana Vakharia met Alexandra Sanchez for the first time Oct. 18 during a fundraiser for Asians for Miracle Marrow at the Cerritos Performing Arts Center here.

Vakharia, a mother of two from Glendale, had signed up with the Be the Match Registry at an A3M donor drive several years ago and last January had donated the bone marrow that saved the life of the 14-year-old Latina who lives in Houston, Texas.

“We were so impressed on how many levels the DNA connected Darshana and Alexandra,” A3M Community Relations manager Madhuri Mistry told the gathering, after noting that while in most cases bone marrow donors are of the same ethnic background, 15 percent can come from someone of a different ethnic background.

Vakharia is studying to be an elementary teacher. In a recent anthropology class, she told India-West, “I learned that early man traveled all over the world and all over the continents. So when we go back, we find that we all have the same ancestors or a small group of ancestors.”

Consequently, she described it as “just amazing” that she was found to be a match to the young Sanchez and that ethnicities can indeed come together to serve one another.

Vakharia and her husband Chetan, a wholesale diamond dealer who has been in the United States for the last 25 years and who, like her, comes from Mumbai, have two daughters, Richa and Naomi. When Darshana was told in 2004 that she could be a potential donor for then eight-year-old Alexandra, Vakharia had a daughter who was about the same age.

If the roles were reversed, Vakharia told India-West, she would want someone to help her out.

Sanchez recounted how in the third grade she was always feeling tired, weak, had bad headaches and was being sent home three times a week. Her bruises and red spots were eventually diagnosed as symptoms of leukemia, and later bone marrow biopsies indicated that her aplastic anemia would require a bone marrow transplant.

Her father, a DuPont supervisor in Houston, was not close enough for a match, but Vakharia was.

“It seemed like forever, but eventually it happened on Jan. 21, 2004,” said Sanchez. “I received my transplant. After that I seemed to get better and better, and today, over five years later, I am considered cured.”

Alexandra’s mother and father were profoundly moved by the experience. Alexandra herself continues to be astounded at how someone from another ethnicity whom she doesn’t even know would be willing to offer so much to save her life.

To help increase the chances of patients finding matches in time, A3M conducts over 500 donor recruitment drives each year in the African American, Chinese, Japanese, Latino, Korean, Filipino, South Asian, Vietnamese and multiracial communities.

One out of every four donors joins the Be the Match Registry at an A3M donor drive that are held at university campuses, churches, temples, community festivals, annual events, and any other occasion where people are willing to register as potential marrow donors.
« Last Edit: Nov 27th, 2009, 5:32pm by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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