Oahu woman to meet mainland boy who received her stem cells - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Oahu woman to meet mainland boy who received her stem cells

Kathy Fu Kathy Fu
Tyler Warren Tyler Warren
Roy Yonashiro Roy Yonashiro

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email      

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In their living room, Kathy Fu and her husband, Steve, are 4,000 miles away from the boy whose family sent them cards and letters -- yearly notes of the youngster's progress.

"From his mother I knew he liked to golf and he liked to swim. And he was really curious about the islands. He really wanted to come here when he found out that I lived here," Kathy Fu said.

In 2002, Tyler Warren was a seven-year-old leukemia patient living in Illinois. He needed a bone marrow transplant. Fu was a match.

But the transplant failed. So she donated again.

"I think it was in December, 2002," she said. "I donated white blood cells. And still that didn't get him over the hill. In June of '03 I donated stem cells to him. That was the lucky charm."

Tyler's leukemia went into remission.

Bone marrow experts said successful transplants happen on the first or second try, if they happen at all.

Three times is extremely rare.

"Four out of ten who are searching for a donor get the transplant they need. That means six out of ten die waiting for a donor," said Roy Yonashiro of the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Fu is Japanese. Tyler is Caucasian, making the match even more unusual.

Yonashiro said the Hawaii Registry needs more minorities to sign up.

"It's something you can do for another human being - give them a second chance at life," Fu said.

Tyler is now fifteen. He and Kathy have only spoken over the telephone. Friday they meet face-to-face for the first time at the Bone Marrow Donor Registry's banquet.

"I'm really nervous and excited, but I just can't wait to meet him and his family," Fu said.

It's a moment she and Tyler have been waiting for ever since her donation of life saved his life.

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