Donor drive at 23rd St. Cinco de Mayo festival aims to save lives

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Donor drive at 23rd St. Cinco de Mayo festival aims to save lives
Four-month-old JJ of Oakley was 2 days old when he was diagnosed with Severe Congenital Neutropenia. Photo: facebook.com/Awareness4JJ

The annual 23rd Street Cinco de Mayo Festival that draws about 100,000 residents and visitors to Richmond for a family-friendly good time may serve a far greater purpose this year: saving lives.

At the daylong event this Sunday, volunteers with the nonprofit Be the Match, a national bone marrow registry, are set to hold a public donor drive in honor of two Bay Area residents in need of life-saving marrow/stem cell donors.

One of the patients is JJ of Oakley, who was just 2 days old when he was diagnosed with Severe Congenital Neutropenia. Without neutrophils, a type of white blood cells, JJ is unable to fight off infection. His family’s touching story was detailed in The Oakley Press.

The other patient is 19-year-old Lauro, who was diagnosed with B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia almost a year ago. The American Canyon resident loves to draw portraits, play sports and spend time with his family, including his dog “Bane.” 

“We are looking for anyone between the ages of 18-44 who is in good health and committed to donating to any patient in need,” Be the Match volunteers stated. “Joining is simple and takes less than 10 minutes – all you need to do is fill out a form and swab your cheek. Once you join, you stay on the registry until you are 61 and are called to donate only if you are the best match for a patient.”

Be the Match will have a table stationed at the 23rd St. festival from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to raise awareness. Registration forms, swab kits and further information will be available to potential donors.

For those unable to attend the festival or public donor drive, you can join the Be The Match Registry online by clicking here.  You can fill out a medical consent form online and have a swab kit sent to your home.

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