Coronavirus impacting bone marrow registry, Hilo boy needs transplant


One of the hidden side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the decline in people signing up for the national bone marrow registry.

Now more than ever, Be The Match needs people who are willing to donate to register online.

The organization launched a new campaign called Couch2Cure to encourage people to register from their homes amid the coronavirus outbreak.

One of those waiting for a match is 17-year-old Jaden of Hilo.

The senior at Kamehameha School’s Hawaii campus was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia.

“Before all this, I could probably get up a flight of 20 stairs easy,” Jaden said. “This is a good example, at the hospital, if I were to go up a flight of four stairs I’m already winded,” he added about his current health condition.

Jaden’s mom, Kui Akiona, said throughout the whole experience, her son has stayed positive.

“He’s never asked, ‘Why me?’ or he’s never had really a moment where he broke down or anything,” Akiona said.

Be The Match Hawaii is trying to find Jaden a match.

“All of his blood counts are low, and the only cure for aplastic anemia is a bone marrow transplant, so that’s what we’re looking for; a match for Jaden,” his mom explained.

Nainoa Wong works for Be The Match Hawaii. He said the organization can no longer hold in person drives, which is resulting it very few people signing up.

However, those who are willing can still register online, and the organization will mail a cheek swab kit to their home.

“Why not save a life? You can do it from the comfort of your couch,” Wong said. “[With] coronavirus, unfortunately, cancers, blood diseases do not take a break and our patients still need us,” he added.

With COVID-19 spreading across the world, patients with a weak immune system like Jaden are even more at risk.

“A simple cold could put him in the hospital,” Jaden’s mom said. “I can only imagine what coronavirus would do to my son.”

Jaden has plans to someday join the military. Right now, those plans are on hold, but a match could change that.

“It would mean a lot in the sense that I can sort of go back home, and get back to the way things used to be,” Jaden said about what a match would mean to him.

Jaden’s mom said finding a match would a “dream come true.”

For more information, and to sign up, click here.

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