National Blood Donor Month Series: Alex Salazar
Alex is an 8-year-old boy with a passion for baseball. He has always been athletic, so his parents were surprised when he began bruising and complaining of pain in early September 2019.
“We noticed he was really tired, and he had a lot of bruising on his legs,” said David Salazar, Alex’s father. “We thought it came from him playing football.”
A week after his symptoms began, Alex was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, an aggressive blood cancer. He left Laredo to begin treatment in San Antonio.
On top of needing blood and platelets to support his chemotherapy, his parents were told Alex would need a marrow transplant as soon as possible. Thankfully he received a 50% matched transplant from his brother.
A marrow transplant is often the best hope for a cure for many patients with leukemia and blood cancers. Patients are more likely to find a matching donor from the same ethnic background. Hispanics make up only 7% of the national marrow donor registry, making it difficult for patients like Alex to find the match they need. Patients who are able to find a match and receive a transplant are expected to use an average of 120-140 units of blood and platelets.
“Being tested is just a swab of a cheek,” said Salazar. “Unfortunately, there is not a large enough pool of Hispanic donors.”
Potential donors must be between the ages of 18-44 to register, in general good health, and have no history of or current serious illnesses. Those who sign up will be on the registry until they are 61. More information about the registry is available at GenCure.org/BeTheMatch.
Besides loving baseball, Alex also is a top scholar in school and likes math and puzzles. He enjoys spending time with his 2-year-old and 15-year-old brothers, who will remain in Laredo while Alex receives treatment at a San Antonio hospital. Alex and his family hope he finds his match soon, so he can rejoin his baseball team.
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