Houston family's search for bone marrow donor reveals low number of Hispanic registries

Diego's family said they are desperate for donors of Hispanic and Latin descent as it plays a huge factor in matching

Adam Winkler Image
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Houston family desperate for bone marrow donors to save teen's life
Could you be a match to help save Diego's life? Meet the 15-year-old who is fighting an aggressive form of leukemia and is hoping you could be the match that helps save him.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A Houston-area family hopes the greater community can help save their son's life.

Diego is a 15-year-old who lives in The Woodlands with his family. He's currently battling a relapse of an aggressive form of leukemia. He's already received a blood and bone marrow transplant from one of his two brothers, but he desperately needs another one. Unfortunately, there is no matching donor in the national Be The Match registry.

"You don't realize that your life can change in just one minute, because of a thing like this," Diego's mother, Mariana, told ABC13. "He's a young man - he understands what's happening and what's ahead of him. He's very strong."

In hopes of finding a match to save young Diego's life, there's a Donor Drive Saturday in The Woodlands. It's being held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the South County Community Center. The family said they are desperate for donors of Hispanic and Latin descent, as the patient's ethnicity plays a huge factor in matching - and numbers are low in Diego's demographic.

"About 13% of the Be the Match registry is Hispanic or Latino, and it is a fairly low number," explained Erica Sevilla with the National Marrow Donor Program. "We absolutely need more diversity."

People between the ages of 18 to 40 are encouraged to come to The Woodlands and swab their cheeks for 10 seconds and insert their own sample into an envelope. The sample will then be entered into the national/international marrow donor registry and tested to see if it can be used in a transplant and help save a life.

If you're unable to attend the Donor Drive for Diego in person, you can text the name "DIEGO" to 61474, fill out the information form and have a swab kit mailed to your home. You can also register at the Be The Match website.

"We absolutely need to find a donor match for Diego - this could save his life," Erica added. "And so we really hope that the entire community will come out and just put themselves in the shoes of his parents, they need to they need you to come out and to and to help him."

"Go and get tested," Mariana pleaded. "It's just a simple act that could change the life of a kid."

For more updates on Diego's story, follow Adam Winkler on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.