3-year-old's family hopes Hawaii's diversity will offer bone marrow match

3-year-old's family hopes Hawaii's diversity will offer bone marrow match

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The family of a 3-year-old Honolulu girl needs your help.

Little Katy Akitake is fighting an uncommon form of adult leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.

Hawaii's melting pot of ethnicities may be offer a match.

Her father, Kevin, said Katy is a bubbly, energetic 3-year-old. She doesn't look gravely ill.

"Most people don't even know she's sick. I don't even think she knows, you know." said the 39-year-old Oahu radio executive.

Kathy is the Akitakes' only child.

She was diagnosed last August with acute myeloid leukemia. It's a disease that mostly affects older people, usually in their 60s.

Katy has undergone six chemotherapy cycles and actually went into remission last year. But this past June, the leukemia returned.

"Of the two types of leukemia that children get, it's the more rare form of leukemia." Kevin Akitake said.

And that makes it harder to treat.

Plus, because Katy is Japanese, Chinese, Korean and Caucasian, her chances of finding a bone marrow donor are much slimmer.

According to the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry, donors of mixed ethnicities make up just 4 percent of the donor database nationally.

"In the bone marrow donor registry, there's mostly Caucasian people who are registered," Akitake said. "And if you're any sort of mixed ethnicity that makes the probability of finding a match way, way harder."

Katy has spent more than six months at the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.

But her parents are hopeful she'll be home soon, and that a bone marrow donor drive this Saturday will find that miracle match.

"I still see Katy going to school and starting off school so we hope we get there and she has a fruitful life, you know," Akitake said.

If you want to help Katy, her family and the Hawaii Bone Marrow Donor Registry will be holding a bone marrow drive at Kahala Mall from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

If you're interested in registering, you'll have to be between 18 and 44 years old, meet certain health guidelines and be willing to donate to anyone in need of a bone marrow transplant. Registration takes about 10 minutes to fill out a form, answer a few health questions and complete the mouth cheek swab process. No blood is collected.

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