One Match, Second Chance: Donor saves Fresno girl through bone marrow donation

Amanda Aguilar Image
Wednesday, February 22, 2023
Donor saves Fresno girl through bone marrow donation
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A Fresno family is urging people to join the Be The Match registry, after their youngest daughter got a second chance at life -- thanks to a bone marrow donor.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno family is urging people to join the Be The Match registry after their youngest daughter got a second chance at life -- thanks to a bone marrow donor.

Davina Torres is six years old. She's the youngest out of her three sisters.

Davina is outgoing, funny and loves playing with her magnetic tiles.

However, two years ago, her family said they didn't ever think she'd reach this point in her life.

"She just stopped breathing and stopped responding," recalled Davina's mom, Veronica Torres. "We called 911. Paramedics grabbed her, took her to the Valley Children's Hospital. They're trying to figure out what's going on."

Torres remember the doctors telling her that Davina had a seizure. The then four-year-old was given medications.

For nearly a year, Davina kept having seizures, her medications were increasing and emergency room visits became the norm for the Torres family.

"She was angry. She was frustrated. She was unhappy," said Torres. "She was a totally different child. Davina was not our child anymore."

In March 2022, Davina went to UC San Francisco Medical Center in the Bay Area. The doctor diagnosed Davina with Central nervous system Hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, or CNS HLH. It's a rare condition that impacts the brain and spinal cord.

Doctors recommended chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.

"It was a relief knowing that there was treatment out there," Torres said.

UCSF connected the family with Be The Match.

Last September, Davina got her transplant after matching with a Be The Match donor.

"The donor, in my opinion, is a missing piece to help cure this disease, is a missing piece, as you would say, to help bring peace into our family, to help bring peace and cure the disease," Torres said.

Be The Match is hoping to help more patients with a potentially life-saving transplant.

According to a spokeswoman, they need people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds to volunteer as donors.

"Less than half of the time -- patients who are Black, Hispanic or Asian are going to find a match," explained Erica Sevilla. "A white patient has a 79% chance of finding a match. So there's this really big disparity that exists in the ability for individuals to find a match based on their ethnicity."

Younger donors, ages 18 to 40, are also in need.

Sevilla said young donors give patients the best opportunity for a second chance.

"The older you get, your stem're not producing as many and they're not as healthy," she said.

Following Davina's transplant, Torres said her daughter is back to being very outgoing and friendly.

She's also done with chemo and is now in isolation as she recovers.

"That's all we wanted is for her to just stop suffering," Torres said. "Thank you, donor. You helped save our child's life."

Be The Match also gave the family a grant that provides financial assistance during the transplant process.

If you're interested in joining the "Be the Match" registry follow the link and begin the registration process.

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