Little boy’s health hurdles underscore lack of diversity in bone marrow registry

Little boy’s health hurdles underscore lack of diversity in bone marrow registry

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Since his birth, little Aizen Enos has faced one health hurdle after another.

The Ewa Beach toddler suffers from a form of blood cancer.

“He got diagnosed in February with myelodisplastic syndrome. He needs a bone marrow transplant in order for him to be cured,” said his mother, Genevie.

But it will be difficult to find a bone marrow match because of Aizen’s mixed ethnicities.

A donor would have to have the same racial mixture.

“The chance of him finding a donor is like we used to say, a needle in a haystack. It’s like winning the lottery,” said Roy Yonashiro, of Be The Match Hawaii.

It’s even more difficult because mixed-race donors account for only 4 percent of registered donors in the entire Be The Match database.

"We have to put more donors on, but we're not putting more donors on fast enough to keep the registry going," Yonashiro said.

After someone registers with Be The Match, they’ll receive a kit for a cheek swab and a stamped envelope to return it to the registry.

Aizen’s parents say it’s fortunate his illness was diagnosed early.

"He doesn't have leukemia yet," Genevie said. "That's why they said it's good to do the transplant first, before that happens."

Tavin Hashimoto on Maui is another Hawaii child of mixed ethnicity waiting for a donor match.

"He's having a hard time finding a donor. I've been searching since he was 8. He's 10 now, and he still hasn't found a donor," Yonashiro said.

Since the Hawaii bone marrow registry began in 1989, about 450 donors have matched patients.

"The way we can help save patients is to get more people on the registry," Yonashiro said.

To join the registry on Aizen’s behalf, click here.

He also has a GoFundMe page called Angels for Aizen, and there will be a bone marrow donor drive for him at Windward Mall on April 6.

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