HONOLULU (KHON2) — Oregon resident Kara Lee is hoping to find her bone marrow match in the islands.

Kara Lee said she had a normal summer, but in August, she started to feel extra tired.

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Lee said she fainted one day “got admitted to the hospital, had a bone biopsy, and then got told I had severe aplastic anemia.”

“It’s a lot of napping. So, there’s a lot of times where, like today, I’ve probably been up for only like two hours, just because I know I’m really low on blood.”


She said, finding a donor has been a challenge due to her mixed race of Japanese, Chinese and Okinawan.

Be the Match Hawaii is looking to find her match. They asked folks to come down to their registration drive at Ka Makana Alii shopping center on Sunday.

“Matches are found typically from donors and patients of the same race. And so, Hawaii is such a valuable place because of our diversity,” Be the Match Hawaii Supervisor of Operations, Renee Chung, said. “We give hope to patients that maybe couldn’t find a match.”

Registering to become a donor is simple.

“A ten-minute cheek swab that’s all it takes, you know, and if you’re a match, you could save a life. You could save mine and it’s very fulfilling,” said Lee.

The organization has been helping people all over the world find their donors, even staff members have donated.

“I would say relatively painless, and the staff involved are very skilled and knowledgeable,” said Be The Match Hawaii volunteer Puuone Johnson.

“I always like try to reflect on, okay, what did the patient go through? you know, and how much pain could I really be in, or discomfort could I really be compared to the patient?”

Puuone Johnson, Be The Match Hawaii volunteer member

Most donors said donating not only helped the patient’s life but theirs as well.

“One of the twin boys had said, ‘thank you for saving my dad’s life,’ said Johnson. “And I think that’s kind of when it hit me like, wow, you know, weather I had realized that or not the impact it could have for a family — you know?”

Those who would like to register have to be between the ages of 18 and 40. However, once registered, donors can donate until they are 60 years old.

Be the Match Hawaii said people who register may never be a match, but it’s better to give someone a chance. Although its rare, registrars could also possibly be able to donate twice!

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For more information on how to register click here.