OAKLAND -- About 130 people turned out Sunday for a chance to be the person who saves 14-year-old Cynthia Rodriguez's life.
The bone marrow registry drive was organized by nonprofit Be the Match and promoted by the Oakland Police Department. Those 130 volunteers, including Mayor Jean Quan, joined a database that could help find a match for Rodriguez or any of the other thousands of patients who suffer from blood cancers, police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said.
Cynthia, or C-Rod, is an avid young athlete who loves playing softball, soccer and basketball. She was diagnosed in 2010 with acute lymphocytic leukemia, a disease that targets bone marrow -- the spongy tissue inside bones that creates the white blood cells that power the immune system.
In the United States, about 10,000 new patients are diagnosed each year with leukemia or another blood cancer in cases where a bone marrow transplant could help, according to Carol Gillespie, who heads the Asian-American Donor Program in Alameda.
The problem is that finding a donor whose marrow is a match for the patient is incredibly difficult, and while family members are the best bet, it's still often just a small chance they can donate to their loved ones, Gillespie said. That's where donor networks come in.
The test, which is just a cotton swab sampling saliva from inside a person's cheek, can enter a potential donor into a national database doctors check when they need to find
In many cases, finding that donor is the difference that helps a patient survive.
The Asian-American Donor Program, which is open to non-Asian-American donors as well, is holding a donor registration drive Friday at Kaiser Permanente at 1950 Franklin St. For more information, go to www.aadp.org. Be the Match's website is at www.marrow.org.
Contact Sean Maher at 925-943-8013. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/OneSeanMaher.