For those diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a rare blood disorder linked to benzene exposure, bone marrow transplants are a life saving therapy. Historically, the problem with these transplants has been the difficulty of finding compatible donors for patients.
Sarah Ruiz, a brave Hawaii teenager, has participated in a clinical trial and become the first Hawaiian to receive what is called a half-match bone marrow transplant. If successful the half-match marrow transplant procedure will be a major breakthrough as it is thought that almost everyone has a family member that could provide it.
So far Ruiz is doing well. The marrow, which she received from her sister, is growing quickly and no major complications have occurred.
Jessica Ruiz said her decision to donate marrow to her sister was one of the easiest she had ever made.
"You’re giving a cancer patient a chance of living life that they wouldn’t have"
Indigenous peoples and people of mixed ethnicity are much less likely to find a suitable donor match through the National Marrow Donor Center. Hopefully this new procedure will increase survival in those demographics, and for everyone who could benefit from a bone marrow transplant.