Marrow match sought for teen with leukemia

10/25/2012 12:00 AM

10/24/2012 11:09 PM

Friends and family of a Mira Loma High School student fighting leukemia are holding a bone marrow drive Monday in hopes of finding a donor for the teen and others needing the potentially lifesaving procedure.

Kurt Lee, 16, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia nearly a year ago after noticing a rash and experiencing arm pain while taking a pre-calculus test. Blood work to rule out a staph infection showed his white blood count was at an "astronomical level," said his dad, Tim Lee, who is a doctor.

Kurt Lee underwent four rounds of chemotherapy in the pediatric oncology unit at the University of California, San Francisco, that took a toll on his body but ultimately put him in remission.

"We thought he was doing fairly well," Tim Lee said. "He returned to Mira Loma (this school year) and two weeks in, he had a relapse."

The teen is going through another round of chemotherapy and then will need a bone marrow transplant. Organizers of Monday's bone marrow drive said they are particularly reaching out to Asian communities because Kurt is Chinese and any matching donor is likely to share his ancestry.

Asians are underrepresented on national donor registries, according to the National Marrow Donor Program.

"The important thing for these bone marrow drives is that they also help other people by increasing the pool of donors," Tim Lee said.

The donor drive will be Monday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Mira Loma High School, 4000 Edison Ave., Sacramento.

Those interested in being added to the registry will have their cheek swabbed and fill out paperwork. It is free for people 18 to 44 years old.

The donor drive is sponsored by BloodSource and Be The Match.

For more information on the bone marrow drive or to sign up to volunteer, call Jodie Thayer at (916) 799-6017.

On Saturday, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will host a Light the Night Walk at 5 p.m. at the Capitol to raise funds for research and to support people battling cancer.

A team honoring Kurt Lee is raising money and will be participating in the walk.

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